Technology, Shakespeare, Linguistics…

Shakespeare TwitterBernard Murphy offers an overview of some of the work being undertaken by Research Associate, Sean Murphy, on the project…

“My brother Sean is working on post-doctoral research in linguistics, especially the use of language in Shakespeare’s plays. Which may seem like a domain far removed from the interests of the technologists who read these blogs, but stick with me. This connects in unexpected ways to analytics of interest to us techies, and ultimately to a topic of interest to every reasonable person worldwide.

Let me start with Sean’s research. His goal has been to understand the different use of language, for example pronouns, between soliloquies in the comedies, history plays and tragedies. I won’t tax the patience of SemiWiki readers by going into the details – if you want to know more, there’s a link at the end of this blog. His approach is based on something called Corpus Linguistics – analysis of a body of writing to find trends and correlations.

Since Shakespeare’s works, prolific though he was, fit comfortably into one large, small-print volume, analysis of an electronic version can be performed easily with desktop software. Think of a statistical analysis package applied to language rather than numbers, looking at frequencies of word usage, or words used in close proximity. There are multiple software packages (from small and probably mostly academic vendors) for this type of analysis.”

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About Mathew Gillings

PhD Linguistics student at Lancaster University.
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