TACT: Textual Analysis Computing Tools.


  1. Introduction
  2. Tutorial
  3. Obtaining Software


TACT is a shareware DOS application including 15 programs developed by a team of researchers at the University of Toronto (which provides an informative TACT Home Page. A Web version of TACT is also available now.

One group of TACT programs is intended to help the user in marking up his texts (the markup makes analysis easier: e.g., if you put a tag before each passage spoken by someone different, you will be able to find a certain word only when it occurs in the speech of a certain person). Another group creates textual databases (TDB) out of ASCII text files. Yet another group provides means for textual analysis: in Usebase, you can search for words, phrases, and categories of words, and display your results in various formats; TACTstat produces statistics for word-length and word-frequency; TACTfreq produces alphabetical, reverse alphabetical, and descending frequency word-lists; Anagrams lists anagrams of words in your text; FCompare compares two files, separating similar and dissimilar lines; Collgen lists repeating fixed phrases and node-collocate pairs (two words that occur close to each other more than once); TACTsort sorts the lines of a file; HSM2TDB is a new program that produces a textual database from a text that has been marked up using the tagging scheme for the Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies (HSMS). You can save your results in the form of a concordance, a list, or a table in order to read or edit them. The TACT system is multilingual. It supports the extended ASCII character set of the IBM PC; it also allows for proper alphabetization and convenient keyboard entry.

At LETRS we have TACT both as a stand-alone tool (version 2.1.3) and on the ICAME English Corpora CD-ROM and the Admyte CD-ROM (version 1.2). The Corpora and Admyte CD-ROM's use only one of the TACT programs -- Usebase. This Guide provides basic help for TACT 2.1.3 Makebase and Usebase only. See TACT manual and TACT Online Help for details about other programs. The mailing list TACT-L is a good forum to address with questions about intricacies of TACT. Refer to Text Processing Tools Available at LETRS for information on other textual analysis software at LETRS.

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1. Choose UseBase from the TACT Main Menu. When prompted for the database name, type in G:\TACT\TEXTS\VOLPONE.TDB (or the name of the directory where you store TACT followed by TEXTS\VOLPONE.TDB). Press Enter.

2. Once in UseBase, type F3 to see the list of all the words in the play "Volpone" (with the number of matches on the right). Type in the word "love". The program will bring you to this word in the list. Press Insert to select this word and a few words following it. Press Enter.

3. Press the space bar to go to the menu. Move in the menu using arrow keys. Select Variable Context from the Displays menu to see your words within a large context. To get more context around a word, press F6, and type in the number of lines you want (move around the dialog box pressing the Tab key).

4. To save your concordance, select Disk from the File menu. Type in the file name, and press Enter. To print your concordance, select Print from the File menu, and press Enter. Within any TACT program press F1 for help and F10 to exit.

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How To Get Started With Your Own File

Copy your text file into the TACT directory. Choose Makebase from the TACT Main Menu. Type in the name of your file, and press Enter. Then follow the prompts. Makebase will create several files (containing markup etc.) and name them by default. Press F9 to start making a database. When MakeBase is finished, choose Usebase from the Main Menu. Press Enter to see a list of databases available, and select the one you need. Press the space bar to get to the menu, and choose Complete word-list from the Select menu. Type in the word you need, and the list will scroll to show you the word. Select the words you wish to view by pressing Insert (to deselect them, press Insert one more time). Press Enter; then choose one of the five displays from the Displays menu (a keyword-in-context, a variable text concordance, the whole text, an occurence-distribution graph, or a table of collocates).

You can save your word-list and refer to it in subsequent searches. To do that, first choose Open Database from the File menu, and create a new .GIX (group index) database: type in a name for it, check out the New .GIX box using the Tab key, and press Enter. Then choose Make from the Group menu, and type in a name for your group (a location in your .GIX database where the selected word-list will be stored). To do more complicated searches, use TACT Query Language.

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TACT Menu Bar

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TACT Query Language

To do a search, choose the Query option from the Select menu, and type in your query. You can save results of your search in a group (see section "Menu Bar" above), and use them for your further searches. The summary of your search will be displayed in the Selection Window as a list of positions in the text with minimal contexts; you can deselect the positions that you don't want to be displayed by pressing Insert. If you search for a single word, the summary will only show the number of occurences (unless you use the POS refinement). A query may look like this: love* ; FREQ < 5 (this will find all the words that begin with "love" whose frequency is less than 5). Here's what you can search for with a query.

Words. You can type them in by hand, or type "?", press Enter, and select them from the complete word-list.

Regular Expressions. They consist of letters and special characters. Those are: "." -- any word letter; "[...]" -- any of the letters between the brackets, e.g., [aeiou] -- any vowel, and [a:e] for any letter between "a" and "e", where ":" is the range selector; "[~...]" -- any letter except for the letters between the brackets, e.g., [~aeiou] -- any consonant; "*" -- zero or more occurences of the preceding letter, e.g., ".*" -- zero or more occurences of any letter, "e*" -- zero or more occurences of "e"; "\" -- a metacharacter that causes the preceding metacharacter to be treated as an ordinary letter, e.g. "e*\" will find all the occurences of "e*" in the text. Some examples of regular expressions: ".*love.*" -- any word containing "love"; ".[bt]." -- any three-letter word with "b" or "t" as the middle letter.

Groups. Type "@" followed by the group name; you can select a group from a list by typing "@?" and pressing Enter; "@" alone will refer to the currently selected word-list. E.g., this query: @emotion -- will retrieve all the words of the group "emotion."

Expressions With Operators. "FREQ " (e.g., "FREQ 5", "FREQ < 5") will find all words whose frequency of occurence in the text is equal, less or greater than a certain number, or is in a certain range; "SIMIL " will find all strings similar to a certain string (e.g., "SIMIL Chaucer 70%" will find strings more than 70% similar to "Chaucer").

Phrases. Any of the above can be combined in a phrase by "|"; e.g., "my | lov*" will select all phrases where "my" is followed by any word starting with "lov."

Exclusion. "[item1] - [item 2]" will retrieve the items that are in [item 1], but not in [item 2]. E.g., "a.* - .*ing" will find the words that start with "a" and do not end with "ing."

Logical Operators. They can combine any two of the items above. "[item1] ~ [item2]" will retrieve positions where the first one occurs and the second doesn't within the range of text specified in the dialog box; "[item1] & [item2]" will retrieve positions where both of them occur together; "[item1] , [item2]" will retrieve positions where either one of them occurs. E.g., "good & (evil.*, wicked)" will find places where "good" occurs close to words beginning with "evil" or to the word "wicked."

Refinements. You can put a semicolon after each of the items listed above, and add one of the following:

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Obtaining Software

If you are interested in trying this package for yourself, feel free either to stop in at LETRS or download a copy from the manufacturers directly.

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Last Updated: 05/30/97
URL: http://www.indiana.edu/~letrs/index.html
Comments: Library Electronic Text Resource Service / LETRS@indiana.edu.
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