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The British Sentimental Novel Corpus (BSNC) and the ROC-DDC alternation at the level of the individual

Authors:

Tamara Bouso ,

ES
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Pablo Ruano San Segundo

ES
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Abstract

This article provides a description of the British Sentimental Novel Corpus (BSNC) and a case study that explores, at the level of the individual, the relation between the Reaction Object Construction (ROC) and the Direct Discourse Construction (DDC). The BSNC is a large-scale specialised corpus that comprises full novels of eleven canonical authors across three generations from 19th century British fiction. It aims at studying language as both a social and a cognitive phenomenon and, in line with a recent trend in historical sociolinguistics, at exploring the interaction between individual and aggregate levels (see Fonteyn 2017; Hilpert 2020; Petré et al. 2019). The first part describes the methodological principles that underlie the design and compilation of the BSNC. In the second part, we present a new case study that aims to determine whether our previous aggregate findings also hold at the individual level. The results serve to confirm our hypothesis: first, individual changes in the ROC and the DDC run in parallel across almost the entire 19th century, correlating most significantly between 1851 and 1860. Second, the aggregate-level division of labour between these two functionally similar constructions turned out to be a feature of all authors in the BSNC. Last, the ROC-DDC alternation has been attested in an important proportion of the BSNC novels, with only a relatively small group of texts using solely the older and less extravagant variant (i.e. the DDC). This suggests that the alternation as such represents a cognitive reality for these individual writers across their lifespan.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.35360/njes.659
How to Cite: Bouso, T. and Ruano San Segundo, P., 2021. The British Sentimental Novel Corpus (BSNC) and the ROC-DDC alternation at the level of the individual. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 20(1), pp.215–257. DOI: http://doi.org/10.35360/njes.659
Published on 30 Jun 2021.
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