This volume aims to represent a useful and necessary evaluation of the current state of the art when it comes to a corpus linguistic and philological perspective to principles and practices of digital editing. While it offers a window into the evolution of scholarly perspectives in the Research Unit for Variation, Contacts and Change in English (VARIENG) in Helsinki over the last two decades, it also reports on work by highly experienced corpus compilers in some other research communities. Research progresses in ebbs and flows, and it appears that the time has once again come for paratextual features to be included in the study of linguistics. Today, the research questions in this branch of study can be operationalised in terms of searchable metadata and detailed annotation and taxonomisation of visual features, available for large-scale diachronic and synchronic studies like never before. At the same time, however, it is prudent to keep in mind that the new methodologies are best used in a theoretically and methodologically well-documented and transparent fashion. The articles in this volume contribute to that end, highlighting some of the principles the authors and editors have come to consider useful and the practical applications of those principles in digital editing.
The general aim of the volume is to remind historical linguists of the complexity of historical data, part of that complexity perhaps getting lost in the digitisation process. In the linguistic analysis of historical texts we constantly draw on our knowledge of the evolution of writing practices in the various grammars and genre traditions, including how these are reflected in the material features of writing and printing. The problem is that features reflecting the culture and practices of writing in the original manuscripts and early printed texts are either not reproduced at all in the corpora or remain unannotated in a way that would make this information digitally retrievable. We think that, in improving diachronic corpora further, a much wider range of material features should be described, taxonomised, and annotated and that sophisticated tools should be developed for retrieving this information as directly linked to linguistic items.
Online publishing in the e-series Studies in Variation, Contacts and Change in English provides us with an excellent forum for offering a particularly rich variety of illustrations in discussing the various topics. We hope that these illustrations will offer useful examples not only for researchers but also for students in the field of historical linguistics.
Structure and contributors:
Part I: On the Evolution of Three Major Corpus Projects in English Historical Linguistics
* Matti Rissanen & Jukka Tyrkkö
* Minna Nevala & Arja Nurmi
* Irma Taavitsainen & Päivi Pahta.
Part II: Material Features in Manuscripts, Correspondence, and Trial Proceedings in Focus
* Anneli Meurman-Solin
* Terry Walker & Merja Kytö
* Anni Sairio & Minna Nevala
* Anneli Meurman-Solin.
Part III: Paratextual Properties in Early Printed Title-Pages
* R.W. McConchie
* Maura Ratia.
Part IV: New Approaches to Digital Editing
* Alpo Honkapohja
* Anneli Meurman-Solin
* Claudia Claridge
* Jukka Tyrkkö, Ville Marttila & Carla Suhr.