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Function-to-form mapping in corpora: historical corpus pragmatics and the study of stance expressions


Landert, Daniela (2019). Function-to-form mapping in corpora: historical corpus pragmatics and the study of stance expressions. In: Suhr, Carla; Nevlainen, Terttu; Taavitsainen, Irma. From data to evidence in English language research. Leiden: Brill, 169-190.

Abstract

This paper presents a new approach to the study of pragmatic functions in corpora. In contrast to forms, functions cannot be retrieved automatically, which makes function-to-form approaches notoriously difficult. Exploiting the fact that pragmatic functions are not evenly distributed across corpora, but instead tend to co-occur, this study shows that it is possible to retrieve text passages that are particularly suitable and relevant for a detailed qualitative analysis. This method is demonstrated with the example of stance expressions. A set of 20 lexical items that are used to express epistemic and evidential stance were tagged in four Early Modern English corpora. A sample of 300-word passages with a high density of the tagged lexical items was then analysed manually to illustrate the kinds of observations that can be made based on such data. The findings show that this method can lead to new insight into stance marking in Early Modern English. For instance, it can be used to identify previously unstudied stance markers, (con)textual factors that deserve further investigation, and problems for the interpretation of quantitative findings. As such, the method complements existing approaches to the study of stance in corpora.

Abstract

This paper presents a new approach to the study of pragmatic functions in corpora. In contrast to forms, functions cannot be retrieved automatically, which makes function-to-form approaches notoriously difficult. Exploiting the fact that pragmatic functions are not evenly distributed across corpora, but instead tend to co-occur, this study shows that it is possible to retrieve text passages that are particularly suitable and relevant for a detailed qualitative analysis. This method is demonstrated with the example of stance expressions. A set of 20 lexical items that are used to express epistemic and evidential stance were tagged in four Early Modern English corpora. A sample of 300-word passages with a high density of the tagged lexical items was then analysed manually to illustrate the kinds of observations that can be made based on such data. The findings show that this method can lead to new insight into stance marking in Early Modern English. For instance, it can be used to identify previously unstudied stance markers, (con)textual factors that deserve further investigation, and problems for the interpretation of quantitative findings. As such, the method complements existing approaches to the study of stance in corpora.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Uncontrolled Keywords:Corpus pragmatics, historical pragmatics, epistemicity, evidentiality, Early Modern English, pragmatic functions
Language:English
Date:2019
Deposited On:07 Nov 2019 15:29
Last Modified:07 Apr 2020 07:22
Publisher:Brill
Series Name:Language and Computers
Number:83
ISBN:9789004390652
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004390652_009
Project Information:
  • : FunderForschungskredit Postdoc Universität Zürich
  • : Grant IDFK-14-074
  • : Project TitleHistorical Corpus Pragmatics: Epistemic and Evidential Stance in Early Modern English

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