Sociocultural Change and Public Discourse in Eighteenth-Century Britain

Wednesday 4 October 2023, 11:00am to 12:30pm


COS - County South C89 - View Map

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Postgraduates, Staff


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Event Details

Aatu Limatta and Tanja Sailly from Helsinki University will give a talk entitled Sociocultural Change and Public Discourse in Eighteenth-Century Britain.


We present our research project, the Academy of Finland funded "Rise of Commercial Society and Eighteenth-Century Publishing" (RiCEP). The project combines intellectual history, book history and historical (socio)linguistics as well as computational and digital humanities approaches to large-scale datasets of historical texts, such as the Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), in order to study how sociocultural change and public discourse were intertwined in eighteenth-century Britain.

We will introduce two cases from our project. In the first case, we focus on Scotticisms, items peculiar to Scottish English influenced by Scots, often presented as dispreferred language use during the process of standardization of the English language during the eighteenth century. In particular, we look into the nature of a list of Scotticisms authored by the Scottish philosopher and writer David Hume by analyzing the use of the items on the list in eighteenth-century British publications.

In a second case, we apply the multi-dimensional method of register analysis (MDA) to ECCO data. The OCR process which has been used to create the machine-readable versions of ECCO texts has produced data of extremely variable quality. Consequently, many quantitative analyses are seriously hampered by the low quality of large parts of the data. Our goal is to ascertain whether MDA, which draws on a range of linguistic features, can be utilized to analyze such data to any extent, and what kinds of insights could be acquired in a historical context through register analysis.

Contact Details

Name Tony Mcenery

Directions to COS - County South C89

County South building, C floor.