1Until recently the creation of large historical reference corpora was, from the point of view of its encoding, a rather project-specific activity. Although reference corpora were built from texts of various origins, the texts had to be converted into a tailor-made format. For example, corpora like the well-known British National Corpus1 and the DWDS core corpus (Geyken 2007) are both annotated on the basis of the Guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative (most recent release: P5; see TEI Consortium 2014). However, the encoding in these cases was typically carried out specifically for the creation of these corpora—that is, it was a unidirectional process. The interchange, and more importantly the interoperability, of corpora with other corpora played only a minor role.
- 2 For a discussion of this issue see Geyken, Haaf, and Wiegand 2012, 383ff.
2In recent years the picture has dramatically changed. With the availability of more and more digitized texts in TEI P5 format and the advent of many academic and non-academic corpus-building projects, the task of creating reference corpora has shifted from a project-specific task to a more general task, requiring joint efforts by many stakeholders. In this new situation, individual projects creating corpora must ensure that their resulting annotation scheme is valid against a TEI P5 schema, and also enables easy reuse of both their metadata and text data in other project contexts. In other words, corpus projects are required to provide interoperable TEI data, so that the resulting corpora compiled from different sources can be made exploitable by common methods and tools. Interoperability issues affect different aspects, from metadata exchange through the extraction and analysis of document components up to (at least for historical texts) the creation of a uniform stylesheet in order to present all corpus texts in a similar way.2
- 3 See TEI Consortium 2014, 23.3, “Using the TEI: Personalization and Customization”, http://www.tei-c (...)
3A main prerequisite for interoperability between corpora is the homogeneity of text structure. Thus, because of the intentionally high flexibility of the TEI tag set,3 it is no longer sufficient to base the annotation on the TEI Guidelines in their entirety. Rather, the TEI tag set has to be narrowed down to subsets that are both extensive, considering the structural phenomena they must document, and unambiguous about how similar phenomena may be encoded. Given these requirements, the desirability of creating some common agreed-upon TEI formats for certain editing purposes—and sharing these formats with the community in order to achieve homogeneously tagged TEI texts across project borders—is evident and has already been attempted several times (see, e.g., Pytlik Zillig 2009; Unsworth 2011).
4Interoperability problems with TEI-encoded documents can occur on several levels: the exchange of metadata, the consistent extraction of document components, and the creation of a uniform stylesheet. It is well known that the flexibility of the TEI may lead to significant structural variation in TEI-conformant headers. This forces computational methods to deal with an enormous number of different cases for semantically consistent information extraction. Within the transcription itself, similar problems may occur with the extraction of structural phenomena in a text collection. For example, letters or quotations can be annotated differently across different document collections. Therefore it can be very difficult or even impossible to formulate a query that retrieves “all letters” across all document collections without knowing all the solutions adopted by all the individual collections. For complex queries the problem becomes even harder. Obviously, a standardized encoding across collections would be very helpful in solving this problem.
5Last but not least, structural variation poses difficulties which should not be underestimated to the creation of a satisfactory rendering stylesheet that maps similar structural phenomena to identical styles. As a consequence, at present, document collections encoded in TEI can be exchanged only by accepting the loss of interoperability on one or several of the above-mentioned levels.
6Existing TEI P5 subsets either were provided by the TEI Consortium, such as TEI Lite (Burnard and Sperberg-McQueen 2012) and TEI Tite (Trolard 2011), or originate from text digitization and curation projects, for example the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries (TEI SIG on Libraries 2011), TEI Analytics (Unsworth 2011; Pytlik Zillig 2009), I5 (Lüngen and Sperberg-McQueen 2012), or TextGrid’s Baseline Encoding for Text Data in TEI P5 (TextGrid 2007–2009).
7A shared goal of these formats is to allow for the encoding of basic structural properties such as the markup of chapters and paragraphs. These formats agree on many of the most common structural features (e.g., a paragraph is marked up using the element <p>). However, each of these formats is designed for particular audiences and goals, and hence deals with the range of TEI possibilities for the markup of similar structures according to its own needs.
8In this article we describe the DTA “Base Format” (DTABf), a strict subset of the TEI P5 tag set. Its purpose is to provide a balance between expressiveness and precision as well as an interoperable annotation scheme for a large variety of text types in historical corpora of printed text from multiple sources. The DTABf shares properties and tagging solutions with the TEI P5 subsets mentioned above, but differs from those formats in several aspects which we described comprehensively in Geyken, Haaf, and Wiegand 2012. For instance, unlike TEI Lite and “Best Practices for TEI in Libraries,” the DTABf uses controlled vocabularies for the specification of attribute values, and unlike TEI Tite, the DTABf forms a strict subset of the TEI tag set (i.e., no extensions of or content changes to the TEI P5 tag set are made) and offers a detailed specification for metadata recording within the TEI header.
9The DTABf was created in a bottom-up process alongside the corpus compilation of the DTA project, thus covering most of the predictable structural phenomena of historical texts. It was applied to 15 text corpora from scholarly digitization projects. In addition, there is a powerful infrastructure implemented by the DTA project in order to process, correct, annotate, and publish texts in DTABf. These principles have helped establish the DTABf as a common, shared TEI format for the annotation of historical German texts.
10The remainder of this paper starts with a short presentation of the project background, the Deutsches Textarchiv (DTA), which will show that a common base format was required to integrate text collections from 15 external corpus projects (section 2). In section 3, we describe the DTABf in more detail. Section 4 focuses on the dissemination of the DTABf; we explain how comprehensive documentation, continuous training courses, and the development of customized software tools interact to create a user community for the DTABf. In section 5, we present examples of good practice that illustrate how different external corpora can be converted into the DTABf, making such corpora interoperable in a wider context—for example, as part of the text corpora provided by the large European infrastructure project CLARIN.4 Section 6 discusses how new structural phenomena encountered in new texts are handled within the DTABf by adding new properties to the DTABf. We conclude with a short summary and some ideas about future prospects for the DTABf.
11The goal of the project Deutsches Textarchiv (DTA)5 is to create a reference corpus of the historical New High German language (1600–1900) which is balanced with regard to date of creation, text type, and thematic scope, and therefore constitutes the basis of a reference corpus for the New High German language. The DTA corpora contain printed historical works from different genres and text types (fictional texts in prose, poems, dramas, scientific texts of numerous different disciplines, and functional literature such as cookbooks, handbooks, sermons, or travel books). The DTA acquires texts in two complementary ways: via digitization of new texts for the DTA core corpus of around 1,500 historical works (approximately 150 million tokens) and via the curation of existing historical text collections, digitized in other project contexts, which are integrated into the DTA infrastructure (currently 120 million tokens from 15 projects).6
12Even though text digitization for the entire core corpus is carried out by the DTA project itself and therefore can be based on similar guidelines, the DTA core corpus texts are heterogeneous due to structural differences between text types, variation in printing habits over time and in different regions, and peculiarities of different printing and publishing houses. External texts from different sources being integrated into the DTA infrastructure introduce additional heterogeneity in terms of project-specific markup conventions and different primary formats.
13In order to cope with this heterogeneous text collection, the DTABf was developed as an annotation scheme that allows for collective processing by software tools including metadata harvesting, retrieval of complex document structures, and presentation of the text data in various formats, including HTML, Text, and ePUB. The DTABf is completely based on the TEI P5 tag set, reducing and further constraining the stock tag set, but not extending it in any way. The goal of the DTABf is to provide solutions for the tagging of all structural phenomena occurring in historical printed texts down to a certain annotation depth while remaining consistent and unambiguous to ensure consistent markup for the DTA corpora as a whole. Thus the DTABf is the backbone of the DTA and guarantees that all DTABf texts are interoperable within the DTA context as well as for re-use in other projects. The DTABf is a “living” TEI format. It is carefully adjusted when new texts containing new structural phenomena are integrated into the DTA corpora.
- 7 ODD: “One document does it all”: see TEI Consortium 2014, “Customization: Getting Started with P5 O (...)
14The DTABf emerged from the TEI format used for the annotation of the DWDS corpus, a balanced corpus for twentieth-century German (Geyken 2007). With the beginning of the DTA project, the DWDS format was adapted to the requirements of the encoding of historical texts. The DTABf was applied continuously to all texts digitized during the first phase of the DTA project (2007–2010, approximately 700 texts dating from 1780 to 1900). In this period it was successively adapted to new phenomena which occurred in the respective texts and which had not previously been covered by the DTABf. With the beginning of DTA phase 2 (2010–2014, approximately 600 texts dating from 1600 to 1780), the DTABf was extensively revised on the basis of the annotated historical data resulting from phase 1: the treatment of structural phenomena was reconsidered and consistent solutions were determined. In the course of these efforts the formal description of the DTABf as given in a corresponding ODD7 was further substantiated and the DTA annotation guidelines were compiled.
- 8 “Integration und Aufwertung historischer Textressourcen des 15.–19. Jahrhunderts in einer nachhalti (...)
- 9 See section 6.2 below for more information about extensions and modifications to the DTABf.
15The revised version of the DTABf has been successfully applied not only to the phase 2 texts of the DTA core corpus, but also to texts originating from external project contexts which were curated by the DTA in the course of the module DTAE (DTA-Erweiterungen, i.e., DTA Extensions) as well as the curation project of WG 1 in CLARIN-D.8 Continuous adjustments of the DTABf remain necessary in order to account for new phenomena, but we take great care to preserve consistency and avoid ambiguity. In addition, since the DTABf is now based upon a large amount of text, we are mostly able to avoid changes which disturb backward compatibility.9
16As a result, the DTABf forms a TEI customization which is based on a large corpus of historical texts and thus offers solutions for most structural phenomena encountered within historical printed texts.
17The DTABf tag set not only offers tagging solutions for text structuring but also provides a specification for the description of metadata in the TEI header. As of May 2014, the DTABf consists of 50 TEI header elements and 75 text elements accompanied by limited element- or class-specific attributes and, where applicable, attribute values. See appendix 1 and appendix 2 for more information on the distribution of DTABf elements within the DTA corpus.
- 10 See the documentation for the DTABf-compliant recording of metadata, “Dokumente zum DTA-Basisformat (...)
18The DTABf TEI header is designed to cover extensive metadata information.10 First, DTABf-conformant metadata records contain bibliographic information about (1) the digital document as published by the DTA, (2) all instances which preceded the current digital edition together with (3) the persons or organizations responsible for those instances, and (4) all licenses relevant for the digital object at hand. Second, descriptions of the physical text source upon which the current edition is based are required, including information about its constitution as well as its physical location (institution, repository, and shelfmark). Finally, general information is given about the content and design of the document (e.g., language, typeface, document type) and the DTA sub-corpus it belongs to.
- 11 See the DTABf documentation for the formal and semantic text annotation: “Dokumente zum DTA-Basisfo (...)
19The tag set for text encoding contains tagging solutions for formal as well as semantic text structures.11 The former include page breaks, lists, tables, and figures, as well as physical layout information like forme work and different types of highlighting. The latter include chapters or text sections with titles, paragraphs, notes, opening or closing text parts, special text types such as poems, letters, and indices, and inline phenomena such as proper nouns or citations. Furthermore, documented editorial interventions are possible (e.g., the correction of printing errors, the expansion of abbreviations, normalizations, and editorial comments).
20Linguistic information—tokenization, lemmatization of historical forms, Part-of-Speech (POS) tagging—is acquired automatically by various tools and applied to the DTA texts via the standoff method.12 We decided not to adopt an inline encoding for linguistic annotations for two reasons. First, the integration of token-based linguistic analyses in the texts leads to an enormous increase in the number of tags, which hinders manual editing of the transcriptions. The second reason is that postprocessing TEI texts―including postprocessing of linguistic annotations―often requires a conversion of the TEI text into a version of the text in which the reading order has been re-established (serialization). We provide such a solution for texts encoded in the DTABf schema (DTA-Tokwrap) and we prefer to provide users with linguistic annotations for our texts by converting the TEI texts into the Text Corpus Format (TCF),13 the standoff format used within the CLARIN project.
21The DTABf now consists of five components:
an ODD file14 specifying constraints on TEI elements, attributes, and attribute values
a RelaxNG schema15 generated from the ODD
a set of Schematron rules complementing the schema
comprehensive documentation16 explaining the treatment of structuring requirements
- 17 All DTA texts as well as the DTA corpora as a whole are available for download and are freely acces (...)
the TEI text instances provided by the DTA17
22In order to ensure homogeneous text annotation over the entire DTA corpus, the tag set has to remain unambiguous; that is, for each phenomenon there should be only one possible method of encoding.
23Thus, we made use of the possibilities of the ODD source format to restrict annotations down to the attribute value level. First, from all possible TEI modules only a subset needed for our purposes was chosen. Second, from each of the included TEI modules, only a subset of available elements needed to encode the DTA corpus texts was selected. Likewise, attribute classes or single attributes within certain classes were eliminated from the schema if they turned out to be unnecessary for our purposes. And finally, if applicable, each attribute (at the class or element level) was provided with a fixed selection of permitted values. In cases where value lists could not be restricted (e.g., @n on <lg> containing the number of a stanza), we set fixed data types for the respective attribute values wherever possible. There are only a few cases remaining where the restriction of fixed attribute values would not be reasonable (e.g., @quantity on <gap> specifies the amount of text left out in the transcription for whatever reason and thus can be filled with any numeral). With the restrictions provided by the DTABf schema the flexibility of the TEI P5 tag set is reduced in favor of unambiguous though still fully TEI P5 compliant solutions.
24As stated above, the DTABf provides not only a vocabulary for text annotation but also a specification for the TEI header in order to allow for consistent metadata recording. Although those two vocabularies—the <text> tag set and the <teiHeader> tag set—are mutually exclusive within the DTABf to a large extent, the underlying TEI P5 schema allows for quite a number of the elements to be valid in both the <text> and the <teiHeader> areas.
- Example 1: Tagging of Notes and Remarks
The <note> element may have different attribute-value pairs depending on where it is used: Within the <text> area notes may be marginal notes (<note place="right|left">), footnotes (<note place="foot">), endnotes (<note place="end">), or editorial remarks of the person working on the digital edition of the text (<note type="editorial">). Within the <teiHeader> of a document, however, other kinds of notes are relevant, e.g., remarks about responsibilities for certain instances of the digital document (<note type="remarkResponsibility">), about the digital document as a whole (<note type="remarkDocument">), or about the constitution of its physical source (<note type="remarkSource">).
- Example 2: DTABf <teiHeader> elements within <text>
There is quite a significant number of DTABf <teiHeader> elements which the DTABf would not allow in the <text> area but which are allowed within <text> according to the TEI Guidelines. Examples are <biblFull>, <msDesc> and their descendants, <respStmt> and <resp> or the children of <persName> (e.g., <addName>, <nameLink>, or <genName>).
25With the ODD vocabulary in itself we cannot change these constraints for elements while remaining fully TEI-compliant. Therefore, to solve this problem, until recently we provided two separate schemas: one representing the DTABf in its entirety, the other excluding the DTABf metadata tagset.18 The latter formed an interim schema to facilitate DTABf-compliant text annotation irrespective of the recording and structuring of metadata, whereas the former constitutes the final schema as it is applied to the complete finalized DTABf documents. But the method of maintaining two separate schemas was time-consuming and thus only provisional. It has now been replaced by a set of Schematron rules which are defined on top of the DTABf schema and which specify contextual constraints.19
- Example 3: Schematron rules for <teiHeader> only elements
This Schematron rule, which deals with elements which could be used in the <teiHeader> or <text> area but should, according to the DTABf, be restricted to the <teiHeader>, is:
<rule context="tei:addName | tei:address | tei:addrLine | tei:email | tei:biblFull | tei:country | tei:forename | tei:genName | tei:measure | tei:msDesc | tei:nameLink | tei:publicationStmt | tei:resp | tei:respStmt | tei:roleName | tei:surname | tei:titleStmt | tei:title">
<report test="ancestor::tei:text" role="ERROR">
[E0001] Element "<name/>" not allowed anywhere within element "text".
- 20 However, it is possible to embed Schematron rules in the ODD file by using a different namespace.
26In addition, Schematron is used for further quality assurance, such as for checking the content of certain elements or for specifying constraints on attribute values which cannot be expressed with conventional content models.20
- Example 4: Schematron rules for @facs values
For example, the DTABf constraints for the @facs attribute of the element <pb> cannot be expressed within ODD using regular datatypes, but can be described by Schematron rules: The value of @facs is a string starting with "#f", followed by a four-digit number; the @facs value of the first <pb> element in a document should be "#f0001"; the following @facs values should increase successively by 1.
The corresponding Schematron rules are:
<assert test="@facs[matches(., '^#f0001$')]" role="ERROR">
[E0015] Value of @facs within first "pb" incorrect; expected value: #f0001.
<assert test="if (matches(@facs, '^#f\d\d\d\d') and matches(preceding::tei:pb/@facs, '^#f\d\d\d\d') and (preceding::tei:pb)) then xs:integer(substring(@facs, 3)) = preceding::tei:pb/xs:integer(substring(@facs, 3)) +1 else 1" role="ERROR">
[E0014] Value of @facs within "pb" incorrect; @facs-values of "pb"-elements have
to increase by 1 continually starting with #f0001.
27The more the DTABf grows, the more cautious we have to be with adding material (elements, attributes, or attribute values) to the tag set, considering that certain tagging solutions might be too flexible and/or overlap in their scope. Both cases might lead to misinterpretations and thus to inconsistencies in the application of the DTABf. Whenever changes to the DTABf become necessary, we have to carefully consider the DTABf tag set as a whole in order to ensure its consistency.
- 21 See TEI Consortium 2014, 15.5, “Recommendations for the Encoding of Large Corpora”,: http://www.tei (...)
28With the growth of the DTABf it gets increasingly difficult and time-consuming to apply the whole range of possible DTABf annotations to each DTA corpus text. Therefore, there must be a way to communicate the degree of conformity of a given TEI text with the other texts in the DTA corpus. For such scenarios, the TEI Guidelines propose to divide the set of elements used within a certain TEI format into different levels according to the necessity of their usage.21 We introduced several levels of annotation, each containing a set of elements which have to be used consistently where applicable in order to achieve conformity with the respective level. The first three annotation levels are based on one another.
29Level 1 (required) covers the minimal amount of text structuring which is required to be applied to a text in order to achieve DTABf conformity. Elements used at this level include <div>, <head>, <p>, <lg>, <figure>, <pb>, and <cb>.
30Level 2 (recommended) contains additional elements (such as <cit>, <opener>, <closer>, <lb>, and <hi>) which are not required but still recommended by the DTABf. All DTA core corpus texts are consistently annotated up to level 2, hence all other level 2 texts are entirely interoperable with the DTA core corpus.
31Level 3 (optional) defines optional elements (like <persName>, <placeName>, <choice> and its possible descendants, or <foreign>) which are part of the DTABf though not consistently applied to the DTA core corpus.
32All elements contained in the first three annotation levels, together with their respective attributes and values, constitute the DTABf as a TEI P5 subset. Therefore, interoperability is completely ensured down to the optional level.
33Level 4 (proscribed) contains TEI P5 elements which are proscribed by the DTABf because they represent text structures for which a different TEI P5 solution was chosen for the DTABf.22
34We are currently working on a way to document the DTABf level of a text within its TEI header. As a consequence, the annotation level can be used as a criterion for dividing the DTA corpus into subsets of variable annotation depth. The corpus query tool DDC23 allows for element-based queries of the DTA corpus. Future plans include the combination of those conditions so that queries within DTABf-conformant sub-corpora, which are created based on level as well as on the elements represented by them, are possible via the DTA website. Similar search options are to be offered by CLARIN’s Federated Content Search.24
35The high granularity of the DTABf tag set and its coherent application to the DTA text corpora enable us to create stylesheets for the transformation of the TEI/XML documents into many other formats, including HTML, plain text with basic structural information, or ePUB. These stylesheets in turn are able to deal with the whole range of tagging scenarios the DTABf allows. In fact, the possibility of uniform presentations of all DTABf texts was one specific goal for the design of the DTABf, and is continually considered when making adjustments to it.
36In most cases semantic annotations can be represented on the presentation level as long as they are unambiguous, consistent, and well-documented. For instance, division titles, list items, speakers, and stage directions in a drama can without any difficulty be presented in such a way that users of the respective reading versions are able to recognize these textual and structural phenomena at a glance (e.g., in our case titles are presented as bold text of larger size; stage directions are printed in italics; list items are outdented; tables are rendered as tables with dividing rules between rows and cells). Also, the specifications of the DTABf down to the attribute value level support the presentation of contents in underspecified elements. For example, the values "foot", "end", "left", and "right" within the @place attribute of the element <note> define the position of a note in the source text. In addition, since the presentation of DTA texts is meant to come as close to the original layout as possible, the DTABf also includes tagging solutions for pure layout information (such as centered text, italics, changes of fonts, and boldface), which additionally support the presentation.
- 25 See TEI Consortium 2014, element specification of <titlePage>: “(title page) contains the title pag (...)
37However, sometimes the semantics of structures interfere with the presentation, which should ideally approximate the layout of the source text. An example of this semantic interference is found in the tagging of title pages. The TEI definition of the <titlePage> element is quite limited in that it restricts the usage of this element to complete pages.25 There are cases, though, that are not met by this definition where the <titlePage> element would still be reasonable. For example, usually the heading on the first page of a newspaper edition contains bibliographic information about the edition, but does not span an entire page. We therefore considered refraining from using the <titlePage> element in newspapers and instead using <docTitle> and analogous elements for the tagging of title information in newspapers. This solution would be fully TEI-conformant. However, it would lead to different encodings of semantically similar structures (in both cases we want to encode title information of a document as given in the source text; the layout is only of secondary interest here). Furthermore, the presentation of information on title pages within the DTA corpora is based on the possibility to define the <titlePage> element as block element and hence to homogeneously render all text occurring within <titlePage> as centered, etc. So, if we left out <titlePage> in newspapers, we would lose the ability to present title information in this text type (newspapers) similarly to title information in all other text types of the DTA corpus. We therefore decided to use <titlePage> for newspapers as well, but introduced the attribute-value pair @type="heading" to the DTABf to differentiate the area of title information in newspapers from title pages in the narrower sense.
- 26 See the customizable HTML presentation which can be accessed from the starting page of each book on (...)
38The fixed vocabulary of the DTABf permits several coherent presentations of DTABf texts to users who can set the parameters of their preferred text presentation themselves.26
39We did not make use of the TEI standard stylesheets for two reasons. The first reason is pragmatic. The TEI stylesheet library27 is a very large project on its own, consisting of complex and deeply structured XSL files which try to cover most of the TEI tag set (even though some elements like <cb> are completely ignored at least by the TEI to HTML conversion stylesheets). In addition, the standard stylesheets are too generic for an adequate visual representation of historical texts in the DTA context where we attempt to achieve a presentation as close as possible to the original print sources. We distinguish some elements with regard to their presentation depending on the context of their appearance. As an example, the <p> element describes a paragraph in prose text, but within <sp> (speech in a performance text) the same element denotes a speaker’s utterance (which may not be represented as a common paragraph in the original printing). Our own stylesheet library is complemented by an extensive test suite. The stylesheets are available at https://github.com/haoess/dta-tools.
40The DTABf TEI header can be converted automatically into other common metadata formats. Currently, the DTA provides a Dublin Core and a Component Metadata Infrastructure (CMDI)28 version of all metadata records which can be harvested via the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH).29 In this way, DTA metadata can be reused by other platforms and Online Public Access Catalogues (OPACs). In addition, the CMDI metadata records for the DTA corpus texts can be interpreted by the Virtual Language Observatory (VLO) of CLARIN30 and thus become visible together with other language resources within the CLARIN infrastructure.
41The plain text versions of all DTA documents together with their corresponding linguistic annotations are provided as TCF files. The Text Corpus Format (TCF)31 is a standoff format for linguistic annotation and forms the input format for CLARIN’s WebLicht32 infrastructure. Thus, it becomes possible to further analyze DTA texts using linguistic tools provided within WebLicht.
42All decisions concerning the DTABf are described in comprehensive documentation which explains the treatment of common structuring requirements as well as special cases and illustrates each phenomenon with examples from the corpus.33 The DTABf documentation is thematically subdivided into different sections (formal/semantic annotation, metadata annotation, special encoding of certain text types such as journals and newspapers). Not only does it explain formal customizations of the TEI tag set as realized within the ODD and schema as well as the Schematron rule set, but it also specifies transcription guidelines as well as rules which could not be formalized without changing the content models of the TEI tag set and thus going beyond the DTABf schema.
43The prose documentation is supplemented by tables containing all DTABf elements, attributes, and attribute values for text encoding on the one hand34 and for metadata annotation on the other.35
44The DTABf documentation provides a description of the work completed so far, but more importantly it serves as a guideline for users working with the DTABf for the TEI-compliant structuring of historical texts.
45The existence of comprehensive documentation is a necessary prerequisite for the usability of the DTABf and thus for its acceptance by a larger user community. In addition, the DTA offers workshops and tutorials where users learn to apply the DTABf in a consistent way.
46Furthermore, work on text editions according to the DTABf is supported by the DTA oXygen Framework DTAoX, a framework for the Author mode of the oXygen XML Editor. DTAoX provides an ad hoc, WYSIWYG-like visualization of DTABf-compliant annotations in tagged text passages, of the annotation levels they belong to, and of conflicts with the DTABf. Additionally, to support DTABf-compliant text annotation, elements can easily be inserted in the text using the DTAoX toolbar, which groups elements according to semantic categories and annotation levels.36
Figure 1: DTAoX oXygen XML Editor framework, with toolbar for DTABf elements and color scheme for different annotation levels (green: level 1; blue: level 2; purple: level 3)
- 37 Deutsches Textarchiv—Qualitätssicherung; see “Kollaborative Qualitätssicherung im Deutschen Textarc (...)
47All DTABf-compliant texts added to the DTA corpus are integrated into the quality assurance platform DTAQ37 where their transcriptions and annotations may be proofread.
- 38 For the documentation of the DTA transcription guidelines, see “DTA-Richtlinien zur Texterfassung,” (...)
48Homogeneity within a corpus does not only concern its tagging but also crucially depends on the way transcriptions are realized. Therefore, the DTABf is complemented by extensive transcription guidelines which can be referred to and further specified within the DTABf-compliant TEI header.38 These guidelines are intended for transcriptions which are as close to the source text as possible, the guiding idea being that the historical language and writing should be preserved. Normalizations, if at all needed, can often be conducted on the presentation level rather than within the primary transcriptions where they might adulterate the results of research on historical spelling, printing habits, historical abbreviations, and the like. Wherever possible, special characters are transcribed as such, using the corresponding Unicode code points. Generally, editorial interventions are marked, and the conditions of the source text are carefully documented as well.
49The history of the DTABf coincides with the history of documents which are exchanged between collaborating projects and the DTA.
50An example of such a collaboration may be found in the project Johann Friedrich Blumenbach—online.39 This project is working on a digital edition of Blumenbach’s printed works in German and Latin as well as his handwritten texts. All texts are prepared in a TEI P5 format.
51The DTA integrates the digitized full texts of German monographs and selected journal articles of Blumenbach into its platforms. This process is not unidirectional but involves several processing steps in the course of which the digital documents are exchanged between and enriched by the two projects.
52First, the texts are transcribed by the Blumenbach project and annotated according to the Blumenbach project’s TEI P5 format. The resulting TEI P5-compliant documents are automatically converted into the DTABf, analyzed by the linguistic tools of the DTA (including tokenization, lemmatization, POS tagging, normalization of historical spellings), and integrated into DTAQ where they can be proofread and corrected. At this stage, the texts are already made available to the interested community; that is, they can be read online, downloaded in different formats (such as HTML or plain text versions both derived from the DTABf-XML or the TCF version containing the corresponding linguistic information), and queried within the DTA.
53After the completion of the first correction phase within DTAQ, the DTABf-compliant texts are further processed by the DTA’s tools for automatic Named-Entity Recognition (NER). The documents are then manually corrected by the Blumenbach project in light of the NER results, and the corrected texts are again returned to the DTA where they are re-integrated into DTAQ, published on the DTA website, and integrated into the CLARIN-D infrastructure.
54The TEI P5 formats used by both projects (DTABf and Blumenbach’s TEI P5 format) agree semantically, so documents can be converted automatically between the two formats in the course of the exchanges described above.
55This workflow is a good example of interoperability and interchange of TEI documents, while it also shows that manual efforts remain necessary to create TEI formats compatible with one another.
56Although the text corpus upon which the DTABf is built is already very large, new structural phenomena may still be encountered, mainly because of individual printing habits, especially in earlier works. In addition, the structuring of external texts integrated into the DTA corpus may differ from the DTABf formally (if varying TEI solutions were chosen for similar phenomena) or semantically (if tagging not provided by the DTABf was applied). Therefore, the DTABf continually comes under scrutiny. The main challenges are twofold: (1) to decide whether adaptations to the format are unavoidable in order to meet new requirements, and (2) to ensure that any such adaptations do not lead to inconsistencies in the structural markup within the corpus.
57By this point, the DTABf has achieved such comprehensive coverage of historical texts that substantial changes are quite unusual. Novelties do not necessarily lead to changes in the DTABf. Often the DTABf already offers solutions which may also be applied to newly encountered phenomena.
58For example, the DTABf provides solutions for annotating quotations and corresponding bibliographic references as well as for concatenating discontinuous text passages. The example below shows discontinuous citations where the quotation is presented inline, whereas the bibliographic citation occurs beforehand within a marginal note. Though it was new to us, we were able to handle this scenario without any extensions to the existing DTABf.
Figure 2: Discontinuous Parts of Quotations
Lucas Bacmeister, Leichpredigt ... Tessen Von Parsow (Rostock, 1614), facsimile 18.40
59TEI tagging solutions which were applied to external texts might be compliant with the DTABf in their thematic scope, though encoded using different TEI vocabulary. In such cases the original tagging can easily be replaced with the DTABf solution.
Figure 3: Tagging of Text Loss
60However, there are cases where new requirements cannot be handled within the DTABf and changes to the format become necessary. Possible scenarios are the following:
New texts may contain structures which are new to the DTABf, for instance, within new document types such as newspapers or manuscripts.
- Example 5: Newspapers
The DTA core corpus consists of texts from various disciplines, text types, and genres to allow for insights about the New High German language as it was used in different contexts and discourses at different points of time in its history. However, an important text type—which because of its enormous extent has not been included in the DTA corpora—is newspapers. We are currently extending the DTA corpus by adding historical newspapers in the course of different project partnerships (see Haaf and Schulz 2014). Newspaper texts from external projects are converted into the DTABf. We adjusted the DTABf to allow for the tagging of structures which are significant for or even limited to the text type "newspaper". Most importantly, we added division types for text passages which are typical for newspapers like political news (@type="jPoliticalNews"), weather reports (@type="jWeatherReports"), financial news (@type="jFinancialNews"), the feuilleton (@type="jFeuilleton"), and articles within those named categories (@type="jArticle"). Specifics of the DTABf for newspapers are covered by separate documentation.41
Structuring applied within texts from external projects (e.g., editorial comments) might not yet have an equivalent within the DTABf. Therefore, new components (here, a new attribute-value-pair @type="editorial") are introduced.
Figure 4: Editorial Comments
The documentation might lack precise examples, leading to uncertainties about the applied text structuring.
Figure 5: List Items or Paragraphs?
Engelbert Kaempfer, Geschichte und Beschreibung von Japan, ed. Christian Wilhelm von Dohm, vol. 1 (Lemgo, 1777), pp. 69–70.42
New TEI P5 releases may introduce changes to tei_all which affect the DTABf.
Figure 6: @unit vs. @type within <biblScope> (Release 2.3.0)
61Changes to the DTABf are carried out only if they are consistent with the existing tag set and do not introduce ambiguities to the format. The changes mainly concern attributes or values and only rarely TEI elements or modules.
62In this paper we described the DTABf as a “living” TEI format for the annotation of historical written texts for the creation of large reference corpora. The DTA corpus base is still growing either through digitization carried out by the DTA team or through the addition of text collections originating from external cooperating projects. Therefore the DTABf is not static but is constantly checked and adjusted to new structural phenomena.
- 43 See, for example, Georg Gustav Erbkam, Tagebuch meiner egyptischen Reise, Teil 1, Ägypten, 1842–43, (...)
63Future work will involve the adaptation of the DTABf to manuscripts. Currently, the DTA corpora almost exclusively contain printed works; only a couple of manuscripts have been integrated so far for evaluation purposes.43 However, some important text types usually exist in handwritten form rather than as printed documents (e.g., letters, diaries, and financial records). In order to improve the balance of the DTA corpus, it would therefore be interesting to integrate manuscripts from some of these widespread text types into our collection. Our tests with manuscripts showed that most of the structural phenomena which occur in manuscripts are similar to those in printed texts and hence can already be treated within the DTABf. However, there are some additional characteristics of handwritten texts which might be usefully encoded (e.g., ad hoc additions, deletions, or insertions of the writer, or the change of hands within one document). These additional phenomena will necessitate adaptations to the DTABf. Furthermore, they are likely to affect the presentation of the TEI transcriptions—we might not be able to imitate the manuscript facsimile on the presentation level to the same extent as we do for printed text sources. In addition, some aspects of the metadata needed for manuscripts differ from the metadata needed for print documents. The adaptations to the DTABf and its corresponding tools and services necessary for the integration of manuscripts into the DTA will be performed in a document-based way through the integration of further manuscripts into the DTA corpus.
- 44 “Die Grenzboten—Digitalisierung, Erschließung und Volltexterkennung einer der herausragenden deutsc (...)
64Other adaptations of the DTABf will be necessary in order to integrate texts obtained via Optical Character Recognition (OCR). OCR software only recognizes basic (text) zones which eventually have to be mapped to semantically meaningful structures. Semi-automatic subsequent structuring of OCR texts is possible, but becomes increasingly complex and error-prone with greater sophistication, detail, and granularity in the target markup. Therefore, based on experiences with automatic post-structuring of OCR texts in the course of the DFG-funded project Die Grenzboten,44 we are planning to create an additional basic structuring level for OCR texts within the DTABf, onto which semi-automatic text structuring can be implemented, and upon which further manual post-structuring can be performed.
65As the best practice format for the structural annotation of historical printed texts within CLARIN-D,45 the DTABf has been brought in line with the CLARIN infrastructure. In this context, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW), as one of the CLARIN-D service centers,46 provides tools and services which allow for the integration of DTABf texts into the CLARIN infrastructure where they are preserved and made available for the long term. In addition, routines for the conversion of DTABf texts and metadata into the CLARIN formats TCF and CMDI have been developed, so that re-use of DTABf texts within the CLARIN infrastructure is possible.