In this chapter I examine the application of large-scale language analysis to the task of measuring the extent and time-course of language changes associated with the acquisition of power. The study of language corpora (the term is explained in the following section) dates back to mediaeval times, when members of the Dominican order created the first concordances of the Latin Vulgate Bible. The friars’ motivations were far removed from those of contemporary scholars and, lacking electronic computers, they needed several years of coordinated labour to complete their work. In more recent times, concordances of the complete works of Shakespeare were painstakingly constructed as aids to literary scholarship. Today, comprehensive concordances (lists of all the word tokens and their contexts and locations, in alphabetical order) of similar size can be created in a matter of seconds.
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- On the Linguistics of Power (and the Power of Linguistics)
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