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OCR Correction for Corpus-assisted Discourse Studies: A Case Study of Old Newspapers

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<oai:doaj.org/article:e9b0f103419b4d18a35042350285092f>

Abstract

The use of OCR software to convert printed characters to digital text is a fundamental tool within diachronic approaches to Corpus-assisted discourse Studies. However, OCR software is not totally accurate, and the resulting error rate may compromise the qualitative analysis of the studies. This paper proposes a mixed qualitative-quantitative approach to OCR error detection and correction in order to develop a methodology for enhancing the quality of historical corpora. We applied the developed methodology to two case studies on newspapers of the beginning of the 20th century for the linguistic analysis of the metaphors representing migration and pandemics. The outcome of this project consists in a set of rules which are, eventually, valid for different contexts and applicable to different corpora and which can be reproduced and reused. The proposed procedure, in terms of computational readability, is aimed at making more readable and searchable the vast array of historical text corpora which are, at the moment, only partially usable given the high error rate introduced by an OCR software.

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