Linguistic DNA: investigating conceptual change in early modern English discourse

Fitzmaurice, Susan, Robinson, Justyna A, Alexander, Marc, Hine, Iona C, Mehl, Seth and Dallachy, Fraser (2017) Linguistic DNA: investigating conceptual change in early modern English discourse. Studia Neophilologica, 89 (sup1). pp. 21-38. ISSN 0039-3274

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This article describes the background and premises of the AHRC-funded project, ‘The Linguistic DNA of Modern Western Thought’. We offer an empirical, encyclopaedic approach to historical semantics regarding ‘conceptual history’, i.e. the history of concepts that shape thought, culture and society in a particular period. We relate the project to traditional work in conceptual and semantic history and define our object of study as the discursive concept, a category of meaning encoded linguistically as a cluster of expressions that co-occur in discourse. We describe our principal data source, EEBO-TCP, and introduce our key research interests, namely, the contexts of conceptual change, the semantic structure of lexical fields and the nature of lexicalisation pressure. We outline our computational processes, which build upon the theoretical definition of discursive concepts, to discover the linguistically encoded forms underpinning the discursive concepts we seek to identify in EEBO-TCP. Finally, we share preliminary results via a worked example, exploring the discursive contexts in which paradigmatic terms of key cultural concepts emerge. We consider the extent to which particular genres, discourses and users in the early modern period make paradigms, and examine the extent to which these contexts determine the characteristics of key concepts.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Research Centres and Groups: Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Research Group
Depositing User: Justyna Robinson
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2017 13:39
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 17:01

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
The Linguistic DNA of Modern Western Thought: Paradigmatic Terms in English, 1500-1800UnsetUnsetAH/M00614X/1