A note on quantifying “good” and “bad” prosodies

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  • Semantic prosody, or discourse prosody as it is also known, has come to be a familiar dimension of corpus-based lexicology (see Louw 1993, Stubbs 1995, Sinclair 1991, Partington 2004 for examples), though it is not without its critics (cf. Whitsitt 2005). As Whitsitt demonstrates through his survey of the relevant literature, there are different emphases in the ways in which the term semantic prosody has come to be understood. The most common understanding that we seem to encounter, however, is that some words, or word groups, occur in contexts which are understood by the researcher to have ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ nuances, or prosodies (with KWIC displays of concordance lines facilitating the discovery of these prosodies). The prosodies are not simply to be equated with the nuances found at any one collocational position or with any one part of speech, but rather they emerge from miscellaneous lexical and phraseological phenomena in the context of usage of the word in question. In some interesting cases (e. g., the negative prosody associated with cause, as discussed in Stubbs 1995), the prosody is not particularly obvious, or even evident at all, to the researcher or native speaker prior to the corpus-based analysis.

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    Article (Published)
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    © 2006 Philip Dilt & John Newman. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original authors and source must be cited.
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    • Dilts, P. & J. Newman. 2006. A note on quantifying “good” and “bad” prosodies. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, 2(2), 233-242.