Emphasis

rendition emphasis phrase-level encoding
emph hi rend

The emph element should be used for linguistic emphasis, where that can be distinguished from casual or decorative highlighting and from other motivating factors such as titles, foreign words, and so forth.

Emphasis is a vague and variable concept, so that the most difficult thing about encoding it is simply coming up with a good definition and then identifying it consistently in your texts. Particularly if you’re dealing with texts that span a wide chronological range, or a range of authors, you may find that mechanisms for signalling emphasis, and conventions for using it, vary greatly from text to text. However, one principle is easy to state: linguistic or rhetorical emphasis should be distinguished carefully from decorative highlighting, which is discussed in simple highlighting and should be encoded with hi.

By linguistic or rhetorical emphasis, we mean emphasis which serves a function in conveying the meaning of a sentence, by suggesting a contrast, giving weight to a certain word, or representing the expressive rhythms of speech (see examples). The TEI provides the emph element to encode this phenomenon. Emphasized words may be signalled by the text in a variety of ways (italics, underlining, capital letters, word spacing, bold type) and if more than one of these appears in a given text you may need to consider whether the difference has semantic significance that is important to you, or whether it is sufficient to encode the rendition with the rend attribute on emph.

In earlier texts, where renditional highlighting (in particular, italics) is so common, it may be difficult to draw a clear line between emphasis and other reasons for renditional distinctness, and particularly between the use of emph and hi. In general, emph should be used only where it is fairly clear that some rhetorical or linguistic emphasis is intended, for instance to point a contrast (see examples); in texts which highlight every noun, one should tend to use emph only rarely. But in later texts, where highlighting is less frequent and less routine, one might be more likely to assume that highlighting serves to convey an actual rhetorical emphasis in the highlighted words.

Examples

Example 1.

<p><emph rend="slant(italic)">Real illness</emph>, 
through that fatal day, served me as an apology...reason 
taught me sufficient self-command, to 
<emph rend="slant(italic)">appear</emph> tolerably composed...</p>  

Example 2.

<p>How <emph>could</emph> you, when you 
<emph>knew</emph> I hated him?</p>

Example 3.

<p>Although his <emph>manners</emph> are impeccable, 
his <emph>morals</emph> are distinctly peccant.</p>