Skip to main content

CLARIN-DK presents the Grundtvig's Works Corpus

Submitted by Jakob Lenardič on

Blog post written by Dorte Haltrup Hansen and Costanza Navarretta, and edited by Darja Fišer and Jakob Lenardič

Nikolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig was a theologian, a priest, a philosopher, a poet, a writer, a teacher and a politician (member of the Rigsdagen, one of the two parts of the Parliament), who lived in Denmark between 1783 and 1872. He was contemporary with Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kirkegaard. Grundtvig’s ideas have had a lasting impact on many areas of Danish culture like education, politics and the church. For example, Grundtvig advocated for a reform of the school system, which also included educating adults to participate actively in society and in the cultural life. Therefore, Grundtvig is considered to be the mind behind the folk high school. He was part of the national romantic movement, and contributed to the development of the Danish national awareness. Grundtvig’s written works are thus an important key to the understanding of Danish culture and mentality.

Figure 1: N.F.S. Grundtvig

The collection Grundtvig’s Works are published by the Grundtvig Center at the University of Aarhus and will contain 1000 text critical and commented editions of the printed authorship by N.F.S. Grundtvig when finalized in 2030. The works are available to the public through a searchable interface including registers of persons, places and bible citations.

The researchers at the Grundtvig Center wanted to a reliable and consistent way to cite the publication and a sustainable and interoperable environment in which they could share the work among other scholars and the public in general. Since the Grundtvig Center itself does not offer the possibility for downloading the underlying files, CLARIN-DK was approached as a repository provider.

Figure 2: The corpus in the CLARIN-DK repository

The corpus, now deposited in CLARIN-DK’s D-Space repository ( ), consists of app. 1300 encoded xml-files of which approximately 450 are critical editions manually annotated with person names, place names, mythological names, bible citations and comments. When new versions of the works are released, they will be uploaded as new versions of the corpus in the CLARIN-DK repository.

Figure 3: A look into Haandbog i Verdens-Historien (Handbook in World History) from 1833.

The language excerpt in Figure 3 shows the old orthography from before the Danish language revision in 1948, e.g.:

Original … som Man i det attende Aarhundrede troede, at Solen, efter Sigende, staaer stille istedenfor at staae op …
Normalised Danish … som man troede i det 18. århundrede, at solen efter sigende står stille i stedet for at stå op …
Literal English translation … as thought in the 1800th century, that the sun after what they said, is staying still instead of rising …



Furthermore, the excerpt shows the manual mark-up of the corpus, done by philologists at the Grundtvig Center. There are references to e.g. person names (Joseph), mythological places (Midgaard) and actual places (Europe) and comments to parts of the text (Overhuggelse af Knuden <com139>, literal English translation: the cut of the knot). The actual comment is not shown in the text.

The corpus is an excellent resource for researchers who wish to apply digital methods to investigate various aspects of Grundtvig and his epoch. For example, researchers might want to investigate Grundtvig as a historical person, address the 19th century’s literature language or orthography, or dig into his work when studying the theoretic background of the Danish folk high school tradition. The corpus is also important for scholars applying Linked Data in order to investigate the 19th century since the corpus contains the annotations of people, places and events.

Click here to read more about Tour de CLARIN