SGML: Updated BNC FAQ (May 18, 1995)

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Date: Thu, 18 May 1995 17:41:03 +0100
From: British National Corpus <>
To: tei-l@UICVM.CC.UIC.EDU,,,
Message-Id: <>
Subject: British National Corpus: First Release
Resent-Date: Thu, 18 May 1995 18:42:32 +0200
Precedence: bulk
Status: R


On behalf of the BNC Consortium, OUCS is very happy to announce that we
expect to start distributing copies of the long-awaited and British
National Corpus to licence holders during the week beginning 22 May.

This corpus is the end-product of a unique three-year collaboration,
involving Oxford University Press, Longman, Chambers-Harrap, Oxford
University Computing Services, Lancaster University and the British
Library, with funding from the DTI and SERC. It contains 100 million
words, from over 4000 different texts carefully selected to give maximal
coverage of the varieties of modern British English, both spoken and
written. The corpus is automatically tagged for part of speech, using
the CLAWS stochastic parser developed at UCREL, and marked up in SGML,
following the TEI Guidelines for corpus encoding.

The corpus is currently available under academic licence within the
European Union only. The first release, comprising three CDs and a
detailed technical manual currently costs under 200 pounds. 

A full installation occupies about 4 Gb of disk space, and can only be
carried out on a Unix system. Later this year we hope to announce
availability of the BNC Sampler: a 2 million word sample from the
corpus, using an enhanced word-class tagset, manually corrected. This
Sampler will be usable on standalone PC.

* * * * * * * * * * *  PRICE RISE  IMMINENT * * * * * * * * * * *
*  Our original budget for the cost of producing the BNC CDs    *
*  was based on the assumption that the whole thing would fit   *
*  onto two CDs. In the event, we needed three. However, we     *
*  are holding the price at the original estimate of 150 pounds *
*  (plus VAT) until 1st JULY 1995.                              *
*                                                               *
*  Orders received after 1st July 1995 will be charged at the   *
*  full price of 220 pounds plus VAT. We apologise for any      *
*  inconvenience this may cause.                                *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

For full details, including ordering and licensing information, please
see our web pages at or write to the address

           B r i t i s h    N a t i o n a l    C o r p u s
                      last update: 15 May 95


Q. What's in the BNC?

A. Extracts from 4124 modern British English texts of all kinds, both
   spoken and written.  Each text is segmented into orthographic sentence
   units, and each word automatically assigned a part of speech code. There
   are six and a quarter million sentences, and over 100 million words.

Q. Where did it come from?

A. It was produced by a consortium of leading dictionary publishers
   (OUP, Longman, Chambers-Harrap) and academic research centres (Oxford
   University Computing Services, Unit for Computer Research in the
   English Language at Lancaster University, British Library Research and
   Development), with funding from DTI and SERC, and the British Academy.
   It has taken three and a half years to complete.

Q. What use is it?

A. It provides a unique and authoritative view of the state of the English
   language today, with carefully balanced representation of as many
   different varieties of English as possible. It can be used to 
   exercise NLP systems of all kinds, as a fertile source of real life
   examples for language learners, or simply to explore the way the
   language is currently used.

Q. What do I have to do to get a copy of it?

A. If you want to use the corpus solely for purposes of academic
   research, all you have to do is agree to the terms of the licence. If
   you want to use it for other purposes, we will refer your request to the
   BNC Consortium, who will discuss licensing arrangements with you. 

Q. How much does it cost?

A. BNC Release 1.0 costs a total of 220 pounds, but we are holding to 
   the originally announced price of 150 pounds until 1 JULY 1995. All 
   prices are exclusive of VAT.

Q. What do I get for my money?

A. The first release of the BNC  comprises:
   -- the full text of the 100 million word corpus 
   -- printed and online documentation 
   -- a full word index to the whole corpus 
   -- ANSI C source code for the SARA server program and for a simple
      SARA client program
   packaged as 3 CD roms. The initial academic licence is valid for 
   five years.

Q. What kind of computer system will I need to use it?

A. You can unpack the distribution CDs on any Unix system capable of
   reading ISO 9660 format. The corpus texts alone occupy nearly
   2 Gb unpacked. The SARA index occupies a further 2 Gb.
   The BNC is an SGML document complying with ISO 8879.

Q. How can I order a copy?

A. You will need to get a copy of the order form and two copies of the
   licence. You can download these from our Web site or request them
   from the address below.
Q. What are the licensing conditions?

A. The licence says you can use the corpus for any non-commercial
   purposes, subject to the "fair-dealing" provisions of the Copyright
   Act. At present, you must be located in a member state of the
   EU. There are also a number of other conditions designed to protect the
   owners of IPR in the corpus contents and the interests of the
   commercial partners in the BNC Consortium.

Q. Is it available online?

A. Not yet. We have been running an experimental online service
   for some months, but the software is not yet ready for release.
   Watch this space for further announcements!

British National Corpus
Oxford University Computing Services
13 Banbury Road
Oxford OX2 6NN

tel +44 (1865) 273 280    
fax +44 (1865) 273 275