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Natural Language Processing with Python by Edward Loper, Steven Bird, Ewan Klein

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The Life Cycle of a Corpus

Corpora are not born fully formed, but involve careful preparation and input from many people over an extended period. Raw data needs to be collected, cleaned up, documented, and stored in a systematic structure. Various layers of annotation might be applied, some requiring specialized knowledge of the morphology or syntax of the language. Success at this stage depends on creating an efficient workflow involving appropriate tools and format converters. Quality control procedures can be put in place to find inconsistencies in the annotations, and to ensure the highest possible level of inter-annotator agreement. Because of the scale and complexity of the task, large corpora may take years to prepare, and involve tens or hundreds of person-years of effort. In this section, we briefly review the various stages in the life cycle of a corpus.

Three Corpus Creation Scenarios

In one type of corpus, the design unfolds over in the course of the creator’s explorations. This is the pattern typical of traditional “field linguistics,” in which material from elicitation sessions is analyzed as it is gathered, with tomorrow’s elicitation often based on questions that arise in analyzing today’s. The resulting corpus is then used during subsequent years of research, and may serve as an archival resource indefinitely. Computerization is an obvious boon to work of this type, as exemplified by the popular program Shoebox, now over two decades old and re-released as Toolbox ...

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