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Syntactic Annotation and Text Classification: A Study Using the Penn-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Middle English

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Chapter Summary

This article explores the possibility of using the syntactic annotations of the Penn-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Middle English (Phase 1) to classify the texts therein in regard to text genre. Texts in the period tend to be classified in terms of regional or periodical aspects, text genres, or foreign influences. The texts in question are classified under 19 text types in the corpus. Adoption or selection of these variables is, however, external to texts and arbitrary. The corpus contains 52 types of syntactic tagging, which can be utilized in research on text distinction. This study shows that internal information such as syntactic features within a text can be of use to linguistic studies in Middle English. It will be noted that syntactic properties in text can reflect the stylistic varieties of text genre. This study demonstrates that a correlation between text genre and syntactic structures can be illustrated through a cluster analysis. Texts classified into a given text genre in the corpus are grouped together with those in another text genre, which indicates that classification based on external criteria is not satisfactory. It is also shown that decisive factors in text distinction are nouns, verbs, conjunctions and clause types.



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