Archer, Dawn and McIntyre, Dan (2005) A computational approach to mind style. In: 25th Conference of the Poetics and Linguistics Association, 18th - 23rd July 2005, University of Huddersfield. (Unpublished)
Abstract

McIntyre (2005) qualitatively analyses the speech of the eponymous protagonist in Alan Bennett’s play The Lady in the Van, and demonstrates the oddity of that character’s mind style. However, Fowler’s (1977) original definition of mind style emphasised consistency across a whole text as a defining feature of the phenomenon, something that is (i) difficult to measure, and (ii) often missed in qualitative analysis. In this paper we investigate the extent to which a computational semantic approach might be used to address this difficulty, with particular reference to McIntyre’s (2005) analysis. To do this we analyse the speech of all the characters in The Lady in the Van using the UCREL Semantic Annotation System (henceforth USAS). USAS has been designed to undertake the automatic semantic analysis of English (see Rayson et al. 2004). The initial tag-set of the USAS system was loosely based on McArthur’s Longman Lexicon of Contemporary English (McArthur 1981), but has since been considerably revised in the light of practical tagging problems met in the course of previous research, and now contains 232 category labels (such as ‘Medicine and medical treatment’, ‘Movement’, ‘Obligation and Necessity’, etc.). We use USAS in pursuit of our two main aims:

1.To determine whether Miss Shepherd’s odd mind style is consistent across the whole of the play-text, as Fowler’s claim suggests it should be.
2.To determine the usefulness of computational semantic analysis for investigating mind style.

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