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What is XML?

XML text has angle-bracketed mark-up which provides additional information. For example the British National Corpus has text which is structured like this:


<s n="43">

<w c5="PNP" hw="i" pos="PRON">I </w><w c5="VVB" hw="mean" pos="VERB">mean</w>

<c c5="PUN">, </c><w c5="AVQ" hw="where" pos="ADV">where </w>

<w c5="VDB" hw="do" pos="VERB">do </w><w c5="NN1-VVG" hw="eating" pos="SUBST">eating </w>

<w c5="NN2" hw="disorder" pos="SUBST">disorders </w>

<w c5="VVB" hw="come" pos="VERB">come </w><w c5="PRP" hw="from" pos="PREP">from</w>

<c c5="PUN">?</c>



<s> ... </s> signals a sentence.

<w c5="PNP" hw="i" pos="PRON"> signals that the next word is a pronoun (coded PNP), head-word is "i",

<w c5="NN2" hw="disorder" pos="SUBST"> signals that the next word is a plural noun belonging to the head-word "disorder" and it's a substantive.

c5="NN2" is an attribute of the <w start-tag, hw="disorder" is another attribute. There can be many attributes in a start-tag. The <c start-tags have only one, but the <w start-tags have 3 in this BNC text.


WordSmith's handling of XML

By default, WordSmith simply ignores all the mark-up so a word list will only get the words in black inserted in it, a concordance will only see those words (I mean, where do eating disorders come from?).


If you define a tag file with colours you can get views like


Searching using Attributes

If you want to search for all instances of NN2 forms (plural nouns), you'd need to type

<w c5="NN2" * *>*

as your search-word and answer yes to the question as to whether you're concordancing on tags.


You would get results like this:



Lots of mark-up! See here for a better solution where you define the tags you're interested in first.


Hide the mark-up

If you prefer not to see all that mark-up in grey, choose to hide the undefined mark-up





There is a box in the main tool which can show or hide mark-up, too.

Asterisks in your search-word

In the example above, we search on

<w c5="NN2" * *>*

<w because each start-tag where NN2 forms are found starts with <w and the very first attribute is c5="NN2".  Then two asterisks to indicate that we aren't interested in the hw or pos attributes. Then a closing > and another asterisk because the word which follows will be right next to the > in our corpus.


For two successive parts of speech,

<w c5="AT0" * *>* <w c5="NN1" * *>*

looks for any article (the/a/an) followed by any singular count noun.


A search on

<w c5="NN?" hw="player" *>*

where we are allowing NN1 or NN2 and requiring the hw to be player,gets results like this:



Another example


Searching Italian .XML containing text like this:


and wishing to find all cases of the ARTPRE part of speech, with the search-word specified like this



and answering yes to this:



we get a considerable concordance with entries like this:



(I have no idea why there are % symbols in the source .XML, by the way.)


See also : Handling the BNC





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