Software for e-Consultation Corpus Analysis and Representation


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To date, corpus linguistics has been used in a range of linguistic studies focusing on characterisation e.

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However, corpus linguistics seems to be completely unused in any prior studies on discourse in Japanese telecinematic texts such as anime, television dramas and feature films. Based on this shortfall, the key purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how corpus linguistics can be used in a mixed-method socio linguistic study to examine the ways in which social meanings indexed by language use in the real world are recontextualised for the purpose of constructing fictional characters.

As a burgeoning popular phenomenon, anime receives a substantial amount of scholarly interest in a number of areas, including gender studies e. However, despite the extensive interdisciplinary study of anime, linguistic examination of discourse in anime and other Japanese telecinematic texts remains limited. Among the few existing linguistic studies of identity in Japanese telecinematic texts, there are a number of studies that examine character identity e. Although these studies offer valuable insights into how language specifically, sentence-final particles and pronouns is used to construct and convey gendered identities, the focus on gender can be limiting since gender is but one aspect of character identity that is discursively constructed.

The identity of both real and fictional beings can be shaped by physical traits such as age, gender or race. Richardson observes this phenomenon in dialogue from primarily American and British television dramas, which can be seen as parallel with anime due to their shared telecinematic nature:. Richardson , 40— As Richardson explains:. Narratives need characters, but there is no requirement that the characters should be human beings.

They can be whatever imagination allows and the medium affords, though human nature is always the point of reference. The examination of non-human characters offers a way for researchers to respond to the aforementioned limitations of identity analysis that focuses on gender. In contrast, the same social categories are less predictable and more difficult to ascertain in non-human characters, which means that analysis of non- human characters is less likely to be influenced by preconceptions.

In doing so, it also illustrates that language is a salient tool for identity construction in telecinematic characters, particularly in the absence of easily parsable visual cues. The data for this study consists of the dialogue from all 25 episodes of the science-fiction anime series, From the New World. The story is set in Japan, a thousand years in the future c.

The narrative focuses on a human female protagonist, Saki Watanabe from age 12 to 26 in the main story, 40 in the Epilogue , and her friends, who live in an idyllic village isolated from the outside world. Over time, Saki and her friends come to learn about the true nature of their world, including the dark history that has shaped their current society. From the New World was selected as the data source as it depicts a world in which a society of a non-human species co-exists and interacts with a human society, thereby allowing analysis of a non-human protagonist acting within a human-centric social and linguistic frame.

The anthropomorphic Bakenezumi live in eusocial colonies, similar to ants or bees, under the control of a queen. They communicate amongst themselves using their own language, which is presented as a mixture of squeaking and grunting vocalisations that are intelligible to neither the viewer nor the human characters in the series. However, each colony has at least one envoy who is fluent in human language and can directly communicate with human officials.

These Bakenezumi are able to adeptly use human language in this case, Japanese to express aspects of their identity and convey their place in a world dominated by humans. This is supplemented below with a manual analysis of dialogue involving Squealer, Saki and her human male friend Satoru. The overarching approach used for the analysis of identity in this study is the framework proposed by Bucholtz and Hall , which synthesises research in several fields to offer a general sociocultural linguistic perspective on identity.

This study draws primarily on the indexicality principle of the framework, which relates to the use of language to discursively construct identity position. Linguistic repertoires can be defined as a summary of linguistic codes used by a community i. When examining telecinematic texts, it is possible to think of the linguistic repertoire of an entire television series or film as the sum of the linguistic codes used by all of the characters in that series or film.

Likewise, a character is a summary of how they speak in the film or television series they appear in Androutsopoulos , Examinations of linguistic repertoire at the level of individual characters can be complemented by examining selected scenes. This allows for more focus on how characters use language in particular contexts and how consistently they use their established linguistic repertoire s , which can help produce a more holistic picture of the character Androutsopoulos , In this study, repertoire analysis is used to profile the salient or dominant speech patterns—that is, language that is the norm or default for these characters in relation to a variety of social and contextual factors—of humans and Bakenezumi.

In order to conduct this analysis, corpus linguistic software and the following three electronic corpora are used:.

Dr. Milena Kühnast — Corpus Linguistics and Morphology

To achieve this, corpus linguistic methodologies of keyword analysis are used, as detailed below. Corpus linguistic software allows for a summative analysis of the linguistic repertoire in a film or television series. Keyword analysis requires using software to produce lists of words that occur in a corpus, along with their frequencies. The software is then able to compare the frequencies in the wordlist of one corpus against another. The resulting words are referred to as keywords due to their unusually high frequency in the node corpus relative to the reference corpus, as determined by their statistical significance.

Since corpora are encoded electronically, and due also to the large volumes of data involved, computer processing is the most efficient and realistic mode of corpus analysis Anthony ; Baker However, the use of automated computational analysis is not without problems, especially when analysing a language such as Japanese that has received limited attention from corpus linguists. During this study, three key methodological issues emerged.

SegmentAnt was chosen as it was specifically designed to segment large volumes of Japanese and Chinese texts. Despite this, the resulting segmentation was characterised by numerous inconsistencies. Corrections were made to the inconsistent or incorrect segmentations in the FNW corpus, using word and phrase structures outlined in Siegel et al. The second issue relates to terminology, which has some implications for clear discussion of the findings.

The third issue is that corpus software creates wordlists based on the form rather than the function or meaning of words and morphemes. This means that the software is unable to distinguish between words and morphemes that are polysemous in nature. For this reason, it is not possible to make conclusions or generalisations about the use of homographic morphemes in the FNW corpus—or by extension, any Japanese-language corpus data that has undergone computerised segmentation—without undertaking further analysis of their meanings and functions.

This is a known issue in corpus linguistics that also affects homographs in corpora in other languages. By analysing linguistic differences based on the socio-demographic traits of each species, it was possible to determine the sociolect or linguistic code allocated to Squealer based on socio-demographic membership—that is, how Squealer does and should speak as a Bakenezumi in a world governed by humans.

The relatively high keyness of these linguistic markers suggests that the linguistic repertoire of the Bakenezumi is characterised by honorific language. Honorific language is used when referring to or addressing individuals who are perceived as superiors in terms of age, seniority and social status, thereby indexing the hierarchical relationship of interlocutors as well as their relative power distance.


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This use of honorific language, therefore, indexes the relatively low social status of Bakenezumi in the world of the text. The keyness of the two words for referencing others conveys the socially conventional ways of addressing or referencing social superiors, which is influenced by the two power relationships experienced by the Bakenezumi. These terms also index the social position of the Bakenezumi in the fictional world of the text.

These linguistic markers in the repertoire of the humans suggests that the humans regularly engage in conversations with those who are equal or lower in status to them, or those who are highly familiar to them. This further indexes the relatively low social status of Bakenezumi in the world of the text.

These markers allow speakers to express and assert their gender identity. This could be related to their strong association with their colonies and their general avoidance of any kind of linguistic markers that would otherwise represent them individually. The relatively high frequency of personal names in human speech compared with Bakenezumi speech also relates to this.

Although the Bakenezumi possess their own personal names, these are rarely used by the Bakenezumi beyond the point of self-introduction and are quickly replaced by one of the collective first-person pronouns introduced above. As this section has shown, a keyword analysis of dialogue can reveal linguistic patterns that are specific to socio-demographic groups in a telecinematic context, which in turn can offer insights into the language use of a focal character.

In this excerpt, Saki the protagonist and her friend Satoru become reacquainted with Squealer, whom they have not seen for two years. Additionally, Squealer uses a particularly polite grammatical construction bolded in line 6. Therefore, while frequent honorific use indexes a low social standing, it also paradoxically indexes cultivation and refinement. This calls attention to Squealer as possessing a particularly refined demeanour and suggests a degree of social superiority over other Bakenezumi and humans.

The following section examines a key scene in which Squealer deviates from the established idiolect or character-specific linguistic code, and explores the potential social meanings that this entails. This section examines a scene in which Squealer shifts between using and not using honorific language.

The conversation from which the following two excerpts derive involves Saki and Satoru visiting Squealer, who has been imprisoned for leadership in a revolt against the human society.


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Excerpt 2 begins following a comment by Squealer about the volatile co-existence of the Bakenezumi and the humans, where the humans would occasionally eliminate large numbers of Bakenezumi. She implies that if Squealer had not initiated a revolt, deaths of both humans and the Bakenezumi species could have been avoided.

However, following this, Squealer returns briefly to more typical honorific language and polite speech style bolded in lines 5, 6 and 7. In the context of a criticism of humans, Squealer shifts into the non-polite style double-underlined in lines 4, 8 and 9. This suggests that Squealer is simply acting out a public persona that the humans ascribe to members of the Bakenezumi species. Cook goes on to suggest that these differences in self-presentation further index different social personae. On the other hand, a speaker is acting naturally or spontaneously when using the non-polite style, which indexes their private or innate self.

Excerpt 3 below is from the same conversation as Excerpt 2 and forms the latter half of the overall scene. In this excerpt, Squealer is mainly responding to accusations and comments made by Satoru. Here, Squealer speaks primarily using the non-polite or plain style double- underlined , briefly returning to the polite style in lines 14, 17 and 21 in bold. As such, the fact that Squealer is speaking predominantly in the plain style suggests that the socially repressed inner persona is gradually achieving prominence over the presentational persona at an emotionally charged point in the narrative.

Taken in its entirety, this section has shown that a corpus-based mixed-method approach to telecinematic texts can offer a highly nuanced level of insight into the identity construction of characters through language.

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This study has examined how language is used to construct the non-human character Squealer in the anime series, From the New World. Additionally, the scene-based analysis demonstrates how shifts between use and non-use of certain linguistic features help to foreground different stances and personae.


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This study demonstrates that insights about the discursive construction of telecinematic characters can be gained by integrating corpus linguistic analysis with scene-based analysis, drawing on sociolinguistic concepts. A number of issues were encountered when using corpus programs for the segmentation and analysis of Japanese linguistic data in this study, despite the fact that the programs used were designed to be compatible with Japanese linguistic data. In future studies of this nature, meticulous effort will be needed to limit inconsistencies as with this study, which required manual correction of large volumes of data due to software limitations or more appropriate software will need to be developed.

These issues notwithstanding, this study has demonstrated that corpus linguistics can be used effectively in a mixed-method approach to examine characterisation. In doing so, it has contributed to the emerging area of corpus linguistics in Japanese linguistic research as well as the still under-represented area of Japanese telecinematic discourse studies.

It is generally used when speakers talk about their own actions or the actions of their in-group members that are related to a person with higher social status e. The main function of object honorific language is to show respect to the recipient of the action i. It is typically used when speaking about the actions of a referent who is older or higher in status.

Software for e-Consultation Corpus Analysis and Representation
Software for e-Consultation Corpus Analysis and Representation
Software for e-Consultation Corpus Analysis and Representation
Software for e-Consultation Corpus Analysis and Representation
Software for e-Consultation Corpus Analysis and Representation

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