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LINGUIST List 24.931

Thu Feb 21 2013

Diss: Text/Corpus Linguistics/ English: Chateau: 'Paradigm Shifts and Semantic Prosody...'

Editor for this issue: Lili Xia <lxialinguistlist.org>

Date: 21-Feb-2013
From: Carmela Chateau Smith <Carmela.Chateauu-bourgogne.fr>
Subject: Paradigm Shifts and Semantic Prosody: Analysis of a diachronic corpus of geological English
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Institution: Université de Bretagne-Sud
Program: Ecole doctorale Arts Lettres et Langues
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2012

Author: Carmela Chateau

Dissertation Title: Paradigm Shifts and Semantic Prosody: Analysis of a diachronic corpus of geological English

Linguistic Field(s): Text/Corpus Linguistics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
Geoffrey Clive Williams

Dissertation Abstract:

Was the transition from a fixed Earth to continental drift and plate tectonics a
paradigm shift? The history and philosophy of science in the mid-twentieth
century suggests that it was. To examine this hypothesis further, a purpose-built
diachronic corpus of geological English (WebsTerre) was compiled in order to
investigate possible changes in language during a paradigm shift. The baseline is
a sub-corpus of Lyell’s works, from 1830-1871, representative of the initial
paradigm in geology. The second sub-corpus represents the Precursors to the
paradigm shift, Taylor, Wegener and Du Toit. A micro-corpus of six core texts
from the key period (1962-1966) and an outer core of texts (1948-1971) are
contrasted with three sets of articles by Partisans and Opponents from 1962 to
1990. Several types of software are used to analyse the WebsTerre corpus,
while reference corpora from 1961 and the early 1990s serve as markers to
establish general language use for key terms before and after the paradigm shift.
The semantic prosody for individual words as well as multi-word units is
examined and evidence of prosody transfer from general to specialised usage is
brought to light. Parallels are drawn between the history of Geology and that of
Linguistics during the twentieth century. Earth Science and Corpus Linguistics,
the new science of language, are both found to have experienced instrument-
based (or technology-led) paradigm shifts in the second half of the twentieth
century. The neutral semantic prosody of ‘plate tectonics’ seems easier to
accept than the conflicting semantic prosodies of ‘continental’ and ‘drift’,
separately and as a fixed expression, in British and American English.

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