The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0261  Monday, 3 April 2006

From: 		Martin Mueller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Saturday, 1 Apr 2006 11:04:12 -0600
Subject: 	Northwestern University Announces Release of WordHoard

Academic Technologies and the Library at Northwestern University are 
happy to announce the release of WordHoard at 

Named after an Old English phrase for the verbal treasure unlocked by a 
wise speaker, WordHoard is an application for the close reading and 
scholarly analysis of deeply tagged literary texts. It applies to highly 
canonical literary texts the insights and techniques of corpus 
linguistics, that is to say, the empirical and computer-assisted study 
of large bodies of written texts or transcribed speech. In the WordHoard 
environment, such texts are tagged by morphological, lexical, prosodic, 
and narratological criteria. They are mediated through a digital page or 
user interface that lets scholarly but non-technical users explore the 
greatly increased query potential of textual data kept in such a form.

The development of WordHoard has been supported by a generous grant from 
the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  The current release includes the 
remains of Early Greek epic in Greek and translation, all of Chaucer and 
Shakespeare, and Spenser's Faerie Queene. The texts have been tagged by 
morphosyntactic, lexical, prosodic, and narratological criteria. The 
English texts have been tagged according to a common scheme that enables 
users to compare Chaucer with Spenser or Shakespeare from a variety of 

WordHoard may be seen as a textbase with an unusually flexible set of 
concordance features. Much attention has been paid to a user interface 
that allows for the side-by-display of arbitrarily chosen passages in 
the same field of vision. Concordance searches may quickly be grouped 
and regrouped by various criteria, including speaker gender or prosodic 
status in the case of Shakespeare.

Every word occurrence in the texts is a link that can be activated to 
display in a GetInfo window all the information the text may be said to 
know about all forms of the word in that location. This is very useful 
for texts that have much orthographic or morphological variety, such as 
Spenser or Chaucer, not to speak of Homer or Hesiod: for any given word 
in the text the reader is a second away from a table that shows all the 
spellings of all the forms of that word sorted by frequency, thus giving 
an immediate overview of actual usage.

WordHoard includes a statistical engine that supports a variety of 
procedures common in Natural Language Processing. For example, users can 
look for words that are disproportionately common or rare in 
Shakespeare's comedies when compared with the tragedies or all of 
Shakespeare. The current release includes precompiled work sets for 
analysis. In later releases, users will be able to configure sets for 
their own purposes.

WordHoard also includes an annotation module. In the current release, 
this module supports the display of the Iliad scholia as true textual 
marginalia. Later releases will support user annotation not only of 
particular locations in a text but of words wherever they occur. A 
prototype of WordHoard with user generated annotation is in operation at 
Northwestern, but it will require additional security feature before it 
can be released.

WordHoard is a Java Web Start/Swing application.  It requires a 
broadband connection and will not work over a modem.  Many operations in 
WordHoard involve extensive shuttling between the client and the server. 
WordHoard will therefore generally be quite a bit faster in on-campus 
environments, where information moves at the same speed in both 
directions, than in off-campus environments where download speeds are 
between five and times as fast as upload speeds. General network traffic 
and the complexity of queries or size of result sets also are important 
variables.  We will be very interested in getting feedback from users 
about how the application works in different environments. WordHoard has 
a Send Error Report in its File Menu. This was designed to point out 
errors in the tagging, but it can be used just as effectively for 
general comments. You may also send email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

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