British National Corpus

Project Description:

The British National Corpus (BNC) is a 100 million word collection of samples of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources, designed to represent a wide cross-section of British English from the later part of the 20th century, both spoken and written. The latest edition is the BNC XML Edition, released in 2007. The written part of the BNC (90%) includes, for example, extracts from regional and national newspapers, specialist periodicals and journals for all ages and interests, academic books and popular fiction, published and unpublished letters and memoranda, school and university essays, among many other kinds of text. The spoken part (10%) consists of orthographic transcriptions of unscripted informal conversations (recorded by volunteers selected from different age, region and social classes in a demographically balanced way) and spoken language collected in different contexts, ranging from formal business or government meetings to radio shows and phone-ins. The corpus is encoded according to the Guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) to represent both the output from CLAWS (automatic part-of-speech tagger) and a variety of other structural properties of texts (e.g. headings, paragraphs, lists etc.). Full classification, contextual and bibliographic information is also included with each text in the form of a TEI-conformant header. Work on building the corpus began in 1991, and was completed in 1994. No new texts have been added after the completion of the project but the corpus was slightly revised prior to the release of the second edition BNC World (2001) and the third edition BNC XML Edition (2007). Since the completion of the project, two sub-corpora with material from the BNC have been released separately: the BNC Sampler (a general collection of one million written words, one million spoken) and the BNC Baby (four one-million word samples from four different genres).

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