On the term 'text' in Digital Humanities

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In digital humanities, within a core semantic scope, the term ‘text’ occurs ubiquitously, with both mass and count noun senses. This article sets out to define the relationship between the two senses—between some text and a text—and in particular to say what makes a text discrete. Three characteristics of a scholarly edition (considered the normative instance of a countable text) are isolated and discussed in relation to several marginal cases. I conclude that two of them—the representation of language and intent to communicate—give us text in the mass sense. Examining the third characteristic—that the communication be complete within its bounds—it becomes clear that it is impossible to say that an entity is intrinsically a text because the count noun sense of text is—as Renear and Dubin assert about three of the four Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records Group 1 entity types—a role, not a type.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-220
Number of pages12
JournalLiterary and Linguistic Computing: the journal of digital scholarship in the humanities
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


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