TEI 2019

What is text, really? TEI and beyond


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The Semantic Field Grace in Early Modern English

Brian L Pytlik Zillig, Mary Bolin

Keywords: xml data, visualization, xslt, drama
Slides: http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3446117
Permalink: https://gams.uni-graz.at/o:tei2019.124

The Semantic Field Grace in Early Modern English

Prof. Brian L. Pytlik Zillig

Dr. Mary K. Bolin

Center for Digital Research in the Humanities

University of Nebraska--Lincoln

The research presented here illustrates the presence of the semantic field grace in Early Modern English, using a corpus of well-known and influential texts, and the techniques of Contrastive Linguistics combined with XML tools used to encode and visualize the data. Contrastive Linguistics is a theoretical framework used to compare phonology, morphology, syntax, lexis, and semantics across languages. Examples might include contrasting the vowel phonemes in English and French, or color terms in English and Spanish. Contrastive linguistics can also be used to show contrasts within a single language (or a dialect or historical period within that language). In contrasting semantic areas, the use of semantic fields can map a domain in a way that pictures the domain spatially, showing the relationship of a group of related words. A semantic field is a group of words with related but not identical meanings that all describe or pertain to one domain or semantic area. Once a field is posited, the words can be analyzed and contrasted using a number of methods, including contrastive analysis, componential analysis, semantic primes, and semantic framing. This study uses a semantic field called grace , which was originally studied using Bible texts in their original languages, plus English, German, and Latin (Bolin, 1999). The words in the English version of the field are grace, mercy, compassion, kindness, favor, and pity . This study uses frequencies and standard deviations as the underlying data to visualize the use of the semantic field grace in the works of five Early Modern English dramatists: Shakespeare, Jonson, Marlowe, Middleton, and Shirley. Each author’s use of the words in the field (including the context) will be contrasted with use by the others, and all will be contrasted with the use of the field in a contemporaneous text, the Book of Psalms from the King James Version (KJV) of the English Bible. Although the Bible was not written in English, the data for this project use only the English of one particular, well-known, and influential translation.

Bolin (1999) mapped the field in Hebrew and Greek in a group of Old and New Testament texts and then mapped the field in English, German, and Latin onto the Hebrew and Greek originals. This crude form of visualization used simple tools that were available 20 years ago. Below is the map of the field in Hebrew, that shows how the words in the field divide up the semantic space

Correspondences in the field were also mapped in other ways. Below is the correspondence of Hebrew checed (most commonly translated as mercy ) with English:

While those simple techniques yielded interesting data, the visualization used in the current research is much more complex, multifaceted, sophisticated, and striking. The data that underlies the visualization includes frequencies and standard deviations, among other statistics. An example of the data is below. It shows the occurrences of the field grace (all the words in the field, including variation such as grace, graceful, mercy, merciful , etc.) in the texts of the KJV and the five dramatists. The author “various” refers to the KJV text. The frequencies show an interesting difference between the KJV and the Early Modern Drama texts; i.e., that the frequency of the words in the field is higher in the KJV than in the dramatic works. Looking at the words in context is one way to shed light on the reasons for this difference in frequency. The KJV has no standard deviation because only one text is being analyzed, while for the dramatists, the standard deviation shows variation in usage among a number of texts for each author.

Author Occurs per 10,000 Mean Std. dev.
Various (KJV) 32.0941 32.0941 0.0000
shirley 15.2739 15.2541 7.9524
middleton 14.8450 14.8463 6.8763
shakespeare 14.8071 14.5976 6.5426
jonson 12.5350 13.0839 6.1316
marlowe 12.2450 12.8340 6.6218

The texts in the corpus were processed with MorphAdorner, a morphosyntactic analysis tool developed by Philip Burns at Northwestern University. This tool identifies part of speech (POS) and lemma information for every word-token in an input text, according to the NUPOS for English schema developed by Martin Mueller. ( http://morphadorner.northwestern.edu/morphadorner/documentation/nupos/ ) Looking at the words in the field in context provides insight and will allow further consideration of their frequencies and distribution. This work uses XML and XML extensions and technologies, including TEI, XSLT, and the XML technology Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), which is used for the visualization of results.

Works Cited

Bolin, Mary K. (1999). Grace: a Contrastive Analysis of a Biblical Semantic Field . Unpublished Master’s Thesis, University of Idaho. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libraryscience/6