9. Treebanking - SunoikisisDC/SunoikisisDC-2023-2024 GitHub Wiki

Treebanking and annotation to study reception of ancient language and text

SunoikisisDC Digital Classics and Byzantine Studies: Session 9

Date: Monday June 10, 2024. 16:00-17:30 BST = 17:00-18:30 CEST.

Convenors: Gabriel Bodard (University of London), Alek Keersmaekers (KU Leuven), Marja Vierros (University of Helsinki)

Youtube link: youtu.be/vPCEVmIICV4

Slides: Combined slides (PDF)


This session explores the use of treebanking, the morphological and syntactic annotation of ancient texts, to look at the language of imitation in later antiquity. Our case study is the verse inscriptions of Julia Balbilla, cut into the statue of “Memnon” (Amenhotep II) in Egypt, in an approximation of Sapphic dialect. Looking at existing treebanks of the surviving poems of Sappho (shared by the Pedalion project) and our own annotations of the Balbilla texts using the PapyGreek and Arethusa platforms, we consider the use of syntax alongside the usually studied vocabulary and morphology, among the tools of the ancient poetic emulator. We demonstrate the utility of Glaux and other tools for the visualisation and analysis of ancient Greek treebanks.

Required readings

Further readings

  • Classics@ volume 20: Digital Text Analysis of Greek and Latin sources; Methods, Tools, Perspectives.. Available: https://classics-at.chs.harvard.edu/volume/classics20-digital-text-analysis-of-greek-and-latin-sources/
  • Dell'Oro, Francesca, Helena Bermúdez Sabel & Paola Marongiu. 2020. “Implemented to Be Shared: the WoPoss Annotation of Semantic Modality in a Latin Diachronic Corpus.” Sharing the Experience: Workflows for the Digital Humanities. Proceedings of the DARIAH-CH Workshop 2019. Available: https://zenodo.org/record/3739440#.XzqoTZMzZTZ
  • Keersmaekers, Alek. 2021. “The GLAUx corpus: methodological issues in designing a long-term, diverse, multi-layered corpus of Ancient Greek.” Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Computational Approaches to Historical Language Change 2021, 39–50. Association for Computational Linguistics. Available: https://aclanthology.org/2021.lchange-1.6
  • Passarotti, Marco. 2019. "The Project of the Index Thomisticus Treebank." In Monica Berti (ed), Digital Classical Philology: Ancient Greek and Latin in the Digital Revolution. De Gruyter. Pp. 299–320. Available: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110599572-017
  • Vierros, M. 2018. Linguistic Annotation of the Digital Papyrological Corpus: Sematia. In Nicola Reggiani (Editor), Digital Papyrology II: Case Studies on the Digital Edition of Ancient Greek Papyri (pp. 105–118). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. Available: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110547450-006

Treebanking Guidelines:



Option 1

  1. Watch the complete Treebanking tutorial from Polina Yordanova and Vanessa Gorman: Feb 20, 2020: Morphosyntactic Annotation.
  2. Create an account on the Perseids Platform (https://sosol.perseids.org/sosol/signin) and create a new treebank annotation.
  3. Upload and attempt to annotate either the Greek (Aesop) or Latin (Phaedrus) sentences given at the bottom of the 2020 session page using Arethusa.
  4. If you prefer to try treebanking on some English language text, look instead at the Guidelines for Universal Dependencies syntax, and when entering your text in Arethusa, select "Click to toggle advanced options..." and then choose the format "UD English" from the list.

Option 2

Traditional reference grammars claim that if a Greek sentence has a neuter plural subject, the verb will be in the singular. See for example Smyth 958: A neuter plural subject is regarded as a collective (996), and has its verb in the singular: “καλὰ ἦν τὰ σφάγια” “the sacrifices were propitious” X. A. 4.3.19.

  1. Is this always true? Try to find this out with GLAUx.
  2. If plural verbs also occur, try to export the results and see whether you can find any patterns (for example, as for authors, genres and time periods).
  3. Try to get an idea how reliable the results of GLAUx are: if you find cases of plural verbs, look at some of them and check whether the subject is really a neuter plural.