Commonplace Books: Charting and Enriching Complex Data

In: From Data to Evidence in English Language Research
Author: Thomas Kohnen


In the field of diachronic corpus linguistics, late medieval and Early Modern English commonplace books can be seen as uncharted and rich data. They are uncharted since most of them are not transcribed or edited and since the edited commonplace books are usually not included in diachronic corpora. They are rich data since they form networks of multifunctional text reservoirs, reflecting the linguistic practices of their compilers. After a short overview of the field of commonplace books, this article suggests three ways of enriching commonplace-book data when edited in digitized corpora: with regard to the patterns of compilation, with regard to shifts and changes of text functions and with regard to the background of genres and genre conventions. In addition, the article presents two illustrative examples with metalinguistically enriched entries and looks at the different subsections a corpus of late medieval and Early Modern English commonplace books could comprise.


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