Explorations into the social contexts of neologism use in early English correspondence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This paper describes ongoing work towards a rich analysis of the social contexts of neologism use in historical corpora, in particular the Corpora of Early English Correspondence, with research questions concerning the innovators, meanings and diffusion of neologisms. To enable this kind of study, we are developing new processes, tools and ways of combining data from different sources, including the Oxford English Dictionary, the Historical Thesaurus, and contemporary published texts. Comparing neologism candidates across these sources is complicated by the large amount of spelling variation. To make the issues tractable, we start from case studies of individual suffixes (-ity, -er) and people (Thomas Twining). By developing tools aiding these studies, we build toward more general analyses. Our aim is to develop an open-source environment where information on neologism candidates is gathered from a variety of algorithms and sources, pooled, and presented to a human evaluator for verification and exploration.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPragmatics & Cognition
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)30-49
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Bibliographical note

The Dynamics of Lexical Innovation: Data, methods, models. Special issue of Pragmatics & Cognition 25:1 (2018). Edited by Daphné Kerremans, Jelena Prokić, Quirin Würschinger and Hans-Jörg Schmid

Fields of Science

  • 6121 Languages
  • neologisms
  • historical sociolinguistics
  • corpus linguistics
  • methods
  • open source
  • English language
  • correspondence
  • spelling variation
  • normalization
  • tools

Cite this