Computer-assisted exploration of lexicalisation through time

University of Sheffield (United Kingdom)

If lexicalisation is the last stage in the formation of a new concept, the challenge of locating emergent concepts cannot be reduced to detection of keywords. Building on concept-modelling methods developed and applied for the Linguistic DNA project, it will soon be possible to design tools to assist in the location of pre-lexicalised concepts in longitudinal text collections such as Early English Books Online (EEBO-TCP) using complex and raw co-occurrence data. The PhD candidate should: 1) explore automatic identification of lexicalisation in historical texts; 2) examine how meaning components may be lexicalised as new words in existing discourse, relating this to theoretical frameworks in linguistics; 3) apply historical lexical knowledge to the analysis of historical texts; 4) explore the potential of existing tools to identify moments of historical change in language. The candidate will have access to EEBO-TCP, ECCO, the British Library Historical Newspapers, and the GloWBE corpus. They will have experience of studying historical linguistics at undergraduate level, and receive specialised training from the Digital Humanities Institute. Expected Results include case studies of specific lexicalisations; case studies of methods for identifying lexicalisation, including recommended best practice; a re-evaluation of existing accounts of lexicalisation.

Further information about the project, the position and how to apply is available here.

Further information can also be obtained by contacting the supervisor, Dr. Seth Mehl (