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1. Names, People, and Places

Names and other references to objects appear in most texts. Exactly how this appearance is made can very significantly differ - from text to text, but between references within the same text as well..

"My dear Mr. Bennet," said his lady to him one day, "have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?"

Mr. Bennet replied that he had not.

"But it is," returned she; "for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it."

Mr. Bennet made no answer.


Now know ye that We have consented and do by these Presents signify Our Consent to the contracting of Matrimony between Our Most Dearly Beloved Grandson Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, K.G. and Our Trusty and Well-beloved Catherine Elizabeth Middleton

3. References are not the entities which they refer to

One entity(person, place, organisation) might be known by many names or might be referred to by some other description entirely.

"Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a chaise and four to see the place, and was so much delighted with it, that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately; that he is to take possession before Michaelmas, and some of his servants are to be in the house by the end of next week."

"What is his name?"


4. Names in the TEI

TEI provides several ways of marking up names and nominal expressions:
  • <rs> ("referring string") -- any phrase which refers to a person or place, e.g. ‘the girl you mentioned’, ‘my husband’...
  • <name> - any lexical item recognized as a proper name e.g. ‘Siegfried Sassoon’ , ‘Calais’, ‘John Doe’ ...
  • <persName>, <placeName>, <orgName>: ‘syntactic sugar’ for <name type="person"> etc.
  • A rich set of elements for the components of such nominal expressions, e.g. <surname>, <forename>, <geogName>, <geogFeat> etc.

5. References may be also ambiguous

<s>Jean likes <name ref="#NN123">Nancy</name>
Using a more precise element (<persName> or <placeName>) is one way of resolving the ambiguity; another is to follow the pointer:
<person xml:id="NN123">
<!-- ... -->
<place xml:id="N123">
 <placeName notBefore="1400">Nancy</placeName>
 <placeName notAfter="0056">Nantium</placeName>
<!-- ... -->

6. Names, People, and Places in TEI

<rs>, <name>, <persName>, <placeName>, <surname>, <forename> ...

"Why, <rs>my dear</rs>, you must know, <persName>Mrs. <surname>Long</surname>
</persName> says that
<placeName>Netherfield</placeName> is taken by a <rs>young man of large
fortune from the north of England</rs>; that he came down on Monday in a
chaise and four to see <rs>the place</rs>, and was so much delighted with it,
that he agreed with <persName>Mr. <surname>Morris</surname>
immediately; that he is to take possession before Michaelmas, and some of his
servants are to be in the house by the end of next week."
"What is his name?"

7. Entities

Recognising the need to distinguish clearly the encoding of references from the encoding of referenced entities (occurrences in the real world) themselves, the TEI provides:

  • <person> corresponding with <persName>
  • <place> corresponding with <placeName>
  • <org> corresponding with <orgName>
  • and in addition <state>, <event> and others

8. Why?

  • To facilitate a more detailed and explicit encoding source documents (historical materials for example) which are primarily of interest because they concern objects in the real world
  • To support the encoding of "data-centric" documents, such as authority files, biographical or geographical dictionaries and gazeteers etc.
  • To represent and model in a uniform way data which is only implicit in readings of many different documents

9. Where to store information about named entities?

Information about a person is stored within a <person> element. These elements may appear only within a <listPerson> element, eg within <particDesc> (participant description) element in the <profileDesc> element of a TEI header

  <listPerson type="historical">
   <person xml:id="ART1">
   <person xml:id="BERT1">
<!-- ... -->

10. Basic <person>

<person xml:id="WO">
 <birth when="1893-03-18">
  <placeName>Oswestry</placeName>, 18th March
 <death when="1918-11-04">
  <placeName>Ors</placeName>, 4th November
 <bibl type="wikipedia">


11. What can we say about named entities?

Potentially, quite a lot...
<person xml:id="ID1485">
 <persName>Ioannes Dantiscus</persName>
 <persName>Johannes von Höfen</persName>
 <persName>Jan Dantyszek</persName>
 <persName>Johannes Flachsbinder</persName>
 <persName>Ioannes de Curiis</persName>
 <birth notBefore="1485-01-01notAfter="1485-12-31">1485</birth>
 <death when="1548-10-27">†1548-10-27</death>
 <occupation>diplomat, neo-Latin poet and traveller</occupation>
 <occupation from="1504-01-01to="1504-12-31">1504 royal scribe</occupation>
 <occupation from="1507-01-01to="1507-12-31">1507 referendary for Prussian affairs at the court of Sigismund Jagiellon; </occupation>
 <occupation from="1508to="1513">1508-1513 royal envoy to Prussian towns and to the Prussian assemblies;</occupation>
 <occupation from="1515">1515 secretary of the Polish legation at the imperial court; </occupation>
 <occupation from="1516to="1532">in 1516-1532 envoy in the service of the king of Poland Sigismund Jagiellon and emperors Maximilian and Charles V of Habsburg; </occupation>
 <event when="1529">Kulm canon; </event>
 <occupation from="1530to="1537">1530-1537 bishop of Kulm; </occupation>
 <occupation from="1537to="1548">1537-1548 bishop of Ermland</occupation>

12. Traits, States, and Events

Inside entities there are generally three classes of information:
  • <state>: more general-purpose, but usually a time-related property (e.g. <occupation>, <floruit>, <education>)
  • <trait>: if you want to a distinguish between time-bound and static, use this for properties that (usually) don't change over time (e.g. <faith>, <langKnowledge>, <nationality>, <sex>, <climate>, <location>, <population>
  • <event>: an independent event in the real world which may lead to a change in state or trait (e.g. <birth> or <death> for a person, a war for a place)

Additionally, all these elements are members of the ‘datable’ class so can have time/dating attributes.

13. Example

<person xml:id="SS">
 <persName>Siegfried Loraine Sassoon</persName>
 <birth when="1886-09-08">
  <placeName>Weirleigh Mansion, Matfield, Kent</placeName>
 <death when="1967-09-01"/>
 <event when="1914-08-04type="military">
  <desc>In service with Sussex Yeomanry on the day the United Kingdom
     declared war</desc>
 <event when="1933-12type="marriage">
  <desc>Married Hester Gatty in December 1933</desc>
 <event when="1945type="separation">
  <desc>Separated from his wife in 1945</desc>

14. How do we identify the entity being named?

Every element which is a member of the att.naming class inherits two attributes from the att.canonical class:
provides an externally-defined means of identifying the entity (or entities) being named, using a coded value of some kind.
provides an explicit means of locating a full definition for the entity being named by means of one or more URIs.

Arguably, key is redundant, since ref is defined as anyURI, this can point from the name instance to the xml:id of metadata about the entity, prefixing it with a '#' if in the same file, or use a private URI syntax.

15. References take many forms

Even within a single language, in a single document, there may be many ways of referencing the same person:

<!-- ... definition in the header --><person xml:id="LG">
<!-- everything we want to say about Leslie -->
<!-- ... and in the text -->

... <persName>Leslie Gunston</persName>.... <persName>Leslie</persName>
<rs>Wilfred's cousin</rs>
The ref can be used simply to combine all references to a specified person:
<persName ref="#LG">Leslie Gunston</persName>.... <persName ref="#LG">Leslie</persName> ....
<rs ref="#LG">Wilfred's cousin</rs>

16. Pointing Mechanisms

The ref attribute can take any kind of pointer.

Entity defined within the same XML document
That silly man<name ref="#DPB1type="person">David Paul Brown</name> has suffered ...
or in some other place, refered to by means of a URI
That silly
man <name
David Paul Brown</name> has suffered ...
Multiple pointers: reference to ‘the Browns’ might be encoded
That wretched pair <name ref="#DPB1 #EBB1type="person">the Browns</name> came to dine ...

17. Organizational names

An organizations is any named collection of people regarded as a single unit. An <orgName> can point back to an <org> in the header.
<p>On <date when="1915-10-21">21 October 1915</date> Owen enlisted in the
<orgName ref="#AROTC">Artists' Rifles Officers' Training
<org xml:id="AROTC">
<!-- Information about the organization -->

18. Components of <persName> elements

if it's a person we can use specialized elements divided further into subparts
did not know <persName ref="#jsbachxml:lang="fr">
  <forename type="composer">Jean-Sebastien</forename>
Not to mention... <roleName> (e.g. ‘Emperor’), <genName> (eg ‘the Elder’) <addName> (e.g. ‘Hammer of the Scots’), <nameLink> a link between components (e.g. ‘van’) ...

19. Component attributes for <persName>

Handy attributes to categorize or sort them

<persName ref="tag:projectname.org,2012:pn9">
 <roleName type="honorificfull="abb">Mr</roleName>
 <forename sort="2">Sergei</forename>
 <forename sort="3type="patronym">Mikhailovic</forename>
 <surname sort="1">Uspensky</surname>

20. Components of place names

  • <placeName> (names can be made up of other names)
  • <geogName> a name associated with some geographical feature such as a mountain or river
  • <geogFeat> a term for some particular kind of geographical feature e.g. ‘Mount’, ‘Lake’

21. A place is defined by its <location>

The <location> element can contain
  • a more or less well-structured description using the hierarchy of place name components (a politico-geographical location)
  • a set of geographical co-ordinates
<place xml:id="craiglockhart">
 <placeName>Craiglockhart War Hospital</placeName>
 <country key="UK">United Kingdom</country>
  <geo>55.91812 -3.24019</geo>

22. Another <location>

<place type="building">
 <placeName>Brasserie Georges</placeName>
  <country key="FR"/>
  <settlement type="city">Lyon</settlement>
  <district type="arrondissement">Perrache</district>
  <placeName type="street">cours de Verdun</placeName>
  <geo>45.748 4.828</geo>

23. A place can be fictional

<place type="imaginary">
  <offset>fifty leagues beyond</offset>
  <placeName>Pillars of <persName>Hercules</persName>

24. Places can self-nest

<place type="soverignState">
 <placeName>United Kingdom</placeName>
 <placeName type="full">United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
 <place type="country">
  <place xml:id="edinburghtype="city">
   <place xml:id="craiglockhart2">
    <placeName>Craiglockhart War Hospital</placeName>
     <geo>55.91812 -3.24019</geo>

25. <listPlace> in context of <settingDesc>

  <place xml:id="west01">
   <placeName>West Copice</placeName>
   <note>'Westcopice' was approximately three-quarters of a mile
       east of Sheinton, on the south bank of the Severn opposite
       Buildwas, near the abbey ruins. Probably Henry Wood's manor
       or estate is named in this reference.</note>
  <place xml:id="shei01">
  <place xml:id="shro01">

26. W3C Date Formats

All these events are 'datable' and so can be associated with a more or less exact date or date range using any combination of the following attributes:
supplies the value of a date or time in a standard form
specifies the earliest possible date for the event in standard form
specifies the latest possible date for the event in standard form
indicates the starting point of the period in standard form
indicates the ending point of the period in standard form

The ‘ standard form’ is that defined by W3C. All dates are normalised to the Gregorian calendar.

The most commonly-encountered format for the date part of the when attribute is yyyy-mm-dd, but yyyy, --mm, ---dd, yyyy-mm, or --mm-dd may also be used.

27. Thank You!

Any Questions?

Magdalena Turska. Date: March 2015
Copyright University of Oxford