Lundi 19 Janvier

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Lundi 19 Janvier
Heure: 13:30 - 15:00
Lieu: Salle B107, bâtiment B, Université de Villetaneuse
Résumé: A Text Analytic Approach to Historical Legal Records
Description: Adam Zachary Wyner The council registers of Aberdeen, Scotland are the earliest and most complete body of town (or burgh) council records in Scotland, running nearly continuously from 1398 to the present; they are hand written in Latin and (largely) Middle Scots. Few cities in the United Kingdom or in Western Europe rival Aberdeen's burgh registers in historical depth and completeness. In July 2013, UNESCO UK recognised the register volumes from 1398 to 1509 as being of outstanding historical importance to the UK. The registers offer a detailed view into the legal aspects of life in one of Scotland's principal burghs, providing a view into administrative, legal, and commercial activities as well as daily life. The registers include information about a range of matters, from the elections of office bearers, property transfers, regulations of trade and prices, references to crimes and subsequent punishment, to matters of public health, credit and debt, cargoes of foreign vessels, tax and rental o
f burgh lands, and woods and fishings. Thus the entries present the burgh's relationships with the countryside and countries around the North Sea.

This talk discusses the results of a text analytic project developed around 100 transcribed pages of these records from the period 1530-1531. We worked with the General Architecture for Text Engineering (GATE) text analytic tool. In the project, we created a large, rich, and varied range of semantic annotations such as individual's names, locations, various materials of trade, legal concepts, translation, offices, social status, documents, shipping terminology, and many others. The annotations can be examined either in situ or as complex semantic queries.

With this application, users can hover over the text and receive a translation into English, making the text accessible to a large audience. Legal historians can query and study the text in novel and illuminating ways, for example, rapidly examining the use of particular terminology or patterns over the whole corpus. Moreover, legal historians can scale up their textual studies - while the particular tool was developed for only 100 pages, it can be applied to larger corpus of related material of some 600 pages. The tool is also highly extensible, allowing for modification of the current analysis as well as the addition of other material that may be beyond the scope of the Aberdeen registers.

We outline the project objectives, present the text analytic tool, show the range of annotations, provide some sample results of queries, relate our work to other projects, and sketch future work. Broadly, the paper and project contribute to the application of language technologies for cultural heritage and the humanities. More specifically, the research provides a text analytic approach to studying the evolution of legal concepts and their application over time, providing legal historians with the means to gain fresh insights to historical and contemporary legal systems.