The Middle English Grammar Corpus (MEG-C) is a multi-genre corpus consisting of samples of English texts from the period 1325-1500. It provides a rich and varied sample of texts from this period, and is particularly intended for the study of linguistic variation.
The Corpus consists of 3000-word samples transcribed directly from manuscript or facsimile reproduction; in this respect, it differs from most historical corpora, which are based on printed editions. The present version (2011.1) contains 410 text samples and altogether 664,514 words.
The corpus contains samples from nearly half the texts mapped in the Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English (LALME). All the texts were localized on linguistic grounds in LALME, and users interested in geographical patterns may like to combine the use of both resources.
MEG-C is provided in three different versions. The "base" version, MEG-C Base, preserves our own coding and commentary, and gives the fullest information about the text as it appears in the manuscript. MEG-C Readable is published in two versions, both as html and pdf files, which are designed for easier reading and browsing. MEG-C Concordance provides text files that are especially designed for use with a concordancer or other corpus software. All versions may be downloaded as zip archives. More information about the different versions, as well as a full description of the transcription conventions, are provided in the Manual.
The Corpus is accompanied by a Manual and a Descriptive Catalogue providing contextual information about each text. In addition, a simple Searchable Catalogue with basic metadata is provided as an Excel spreadsheet.
While MEG-C is no longer an active research project, unpublished materials still remain and the corpus will be augmented as time allows. Texts will be added in bunches, at which point the version number will change and the Catalogue will be correspondingly updated; earlier versions will still remain available. We would be grateful for any corrections or other feedback from users, and indeed for any offers to contribute to the corpus!
The work on MEG-C was from the start a cooperative venture between the Universities of Glasgow and Stavanger.
It was originally compiled as part of a project that aimed to produce a new Middle English ‘grammar’, in the sense of a description of (in the first instance) the phonology and orthography of English in this period. During the compilation, everyone's research interests began to take other directions, and the corpus ended up being a resource in its own right; however, the name ‘Middle English Grammar Corpus’ has been retained. The Corpus was completed and is maintained by the Stavanger Middle English team.