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An Excursion on Land


Mats Mobärg

University of Gothenburg, SE
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A fundamental aspect of political language is the words we use for potentially contentious political-cultural concepts, as well as how we use them. This paper investigates the use of the noun land in a small sample of English authors, from Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf, comparing that use to how the same authors use the nouns country and nation, as presented in a previous paper along the same lines. In addition to simple frequencies, the combinatory potential of the noun land is examined. Special attention is paid to the use of land in the works of Shakespeare and Marie Corelli. Land in Shakespeare was shown to have a higher combinatory potential than country, which was ascribed partly to the formal properties of the word, partly to its suitability as part of Shakespeare’s imagery, in the context of the political situation in England in the late sixteenth century. Corelli’s abundant use of land is seen as exaggeratedly symptomatic of Victorian style, which has contributed to the word being stylistically marked in present-day English. A general finding is that land, even when used in a political sense, retains some of its concrete meaning, which may contribute to its rhetorical usefulness.
How to Cite: Mobärg, M., 2020. An Excursion on Land. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 19(5), pp.262–287. DOI:
Published on 19 Dec 2020.
Peer Reviewed


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