Profaning Margery Kempe's tomb or the application of a Constraint-Grammar Parser to a late Middle English text
The aim of this paper is to investigate the extent of grammatical variation between late Middle English and Present-day English. To that end, we compare the automatic output which the English Constraint Grammar Parser (ENGCG-2) offers of an updated medieval text from The Book of Margery Kempe and its corresponding modern version. In the first half of the paper we focus on the description of the parser. This system parses every constituent and associates it with a complex tag which provides morphological and syntactic information. The second half of the paper is devoted to the evaluation of the results obtained after the application of the parser to the medieval and the contemporary passages. By examining the instances exhibiting either unjustified ambiguity or parsing failure we determine to what extent morphosyntactic rules designed for Present-day English can be suitably applied to earlier stages of the language.
Keywords: morphology, parser, parsing, late Middle English, syntax
Published online: 30 November 2004