Johnson and the Eighteenth–Century Periodical Essay: A Corpus–Based Approach

  • Paul Brocklebank Tokyo University of Technology
Keywords: corpus stylistics, corpus linguistics, keywords, 4–grams, eighteenth century periodical essays, Samuel Johnson

Abstract

The style of Samuel Johnson’s essays for the periodicals The Rambler, The Adventurer and The Idler is quite different from that of earlier eighteenth–century essayists such as Joseph Addison and Jonathan Swift. However, despite advances in recent years in corpus–based stylistic approaches to texts, a comparison of these three authors using current corpus–analytic techniques has yet to be attempted. This paper reports on the first stages of such a project. Johnson’s essays are compared with Addison and Swift’s essays using WordSmith Tools 5, and an analysis of keywords, semantic groupings of keywords, and key collocations of keywords in Johnson’s essays are identified. It is argued that a keyword analysis brings to the fore grammatical aspects of Johnsonian sentence patterns and provides empirical support for what have hitherto been only intuitively–based statements regarding his style. Also, further patterns in the data will be identified through a phraseological analysis of the essays focusing on the most common four–word clusters (4–grams) that Johnson uses.

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Published
2013-05-09
How to Cite
BrocklebankP. (2013). Johnson and the Eighteenth–Century Periodical Essay: A Corpus–Based Approach. ELOPE: English Language Overseas Perspectives and Enquiries, 10(2), 21-32. https://doi.org/10.4312/elope.10.2.21-32