REX: a database of tagged Referring EXpressions

Position: Lecturer
School/Unit: Centre for Language and Communication
Address: Humanities Building
Telephone: 029 2087 6324

REX is a database of Referring Expressions which are tagged with both functional and syntactic labels, using a Sytemic Functional Linguistic framework. This database is still largely underconstruction, but i've put a short sample here to show how it looks at this point (April 2006).

The coding is in very basic XML. It can be viewed in any browser but it is 'usuable' in Microsoft Excel, which enables sorting, or in any other type of XML browser or software for managing XML files.

The following image shows the tagging fora complex referring expression: [the land it uses as a testing ground]
(full context: "Although the model forest organization itself does not have jurisdiction over the land it uses as a testing ground, those who do have jurisdiction are participants. ")



Without explaining the theory and criiteria behind the analysis at this point, we can see that a variety of structures and functions are now easily identifiable.

  • textname codes the entry for the text it comes from, in this case it is a text labelled MFN (Model Forest Network)
  • role codes the entry for the functional role explaining the relation between the head of the nominal group and the postmodifier, in this case 'Participant', and role type codes the entry for the specific type of role; in this case it is 'goal-range' (note that no distinction is being made here between Goal and Range/Scope)
  • nphead simply identifies the lexical element expounding the head in the nominal group
  • qtype is the tag for the structural form of the postmodifier, in this case it is a finite clause, and clauseexpression identifies its realisation: 'it uses as a testing ground'.

The final version will be in two parts, which I hope will eventually be connected. The first is a database of all complex referring expressions. This is nearly complete and contains nearly 400 instances. The second is a database of all referring expressions, a bit more work is involved with this and in its first instance it won't be a structured as the first. It contains nearly 4,000 instances of nominal groups, all tagged for both functional and structural labels.

It will hopefully be useful to researchers interested in the nominal group and referring expressions.

Click here to dowload a sample of the database: REX short sample (REX-sample.xml)

Links to XML Browsers and other XML Resources

XML browsers (in French)

lumrix (has some freeware)

Frank Kilkelly's Freeware XSD Viewer / XML Schema Viewer

Eclipse Tools


the W3's XML Tutorial

Stylus Studio


Fontaine, L. (2006) REX, a database of Referring EXpressions tagged with both functional and syntactic labels. CD-ROM. Centre for Language and Communication Research, ENCAP, Cardiff University.

Fontaine, L (in preparation) A Systemic Functional Approach to Complex Referring Expressions, doctoral dissertation, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales.

Fontaine, L. (in progress for submission in 2006) The Variability of Referring Expressions : an alternative perspective on the noun phrase in English


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