Selection of texts

Extent of the texts

The target for inclusion in the corpus is a text extract of 15,000 words. If, for a given text type in a given period, we are unable to find a good text that of at least 15,000 words in length, several texts are used to form a total of 15,000 words. In this case, if possible, texts are selected that were composed by the same author or in the same geographical or cultural environment.

Sometimes the extract from a text exceeds 15,000 words. If a text in its entirety goes somewhat beyond 15,000 words (say 17,000 words), the whole text has sometimes been chosen for transcription. A total of more than 15,000 words is included if a text is formulaic in parts, as, for instance, is often the case with chronicles. Plays (mostly the interludes) have in all cases been transcribed in their entirety.

Poetry in prose is always included in the transcription, but does not figure in the word count. Poetic sections are encoded in such a way as to make it possible to suppress them in the textual presentation and searching, if required. However, in the concordances, poetry has not been suppressed in this way, and entries for words within poetry in prose text will be found in the concordances.

Background information on the texts

A brief introduction is provided to each text, with sections on the manuscript or print in which it is found, its author and/or scribe (if known), and a brief outline of its chief linguistic and orthographic characteristics and geographical ('dialectal') provenance.

This brief introduction aims to give users the basic textual information that they will need to use and evaluate the text as a source, but extensive background research is not possible. The sections on language and orthography are intended to make it easier for the user to search a given text, and to warn of possible pitfalls.

Some of this information, particularly that on the geographical provenance of a text is necessarily rather tentative, and it is hoped that inclusion of a text in the corpus will encourage further reseach on its literary and philological background. The introduction also provides references to secondary material on a particular text, where this exists.

© University of Cambridge 2004
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