Text Encoding and Annotation

If corpora is said to be unannotated it appears in its existing raw state of plain text, whereas annotated corpora has been enhanced with various types of linguistic information. Unsurprisingly, the utility of the corpus is increased when it has been annotated, making it no longer a body of text where linguistic information is implicitly present, but one which may be considered a repository of linguistic information. The implicit information has been made explicit through the process of concrete annotation.

For example, the form "gives" contains the implicit part-of-speech information "third person singular present tense verb" but it is only retrieved in normal reading by recourse to our pre-existing knowledge of the grammar of English. However, in an annotated corpus the form "gives" might appear as "gives_VVZ", with the code VVZ indicating that it is a third person singular present tense (Z) form of a lexical verb (VV). Such annotation makes it quicker and easier to retrieve and analyse information about the language contained in the corpus.

Leech (1993) describes 7 maxims which should apply in the annotation of text corpora.

Before reading about types of annotation, you might like to learn something about the formats they can take.