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Language Log » Two Disciplines in Search of Lov e

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  • Bill Benzon
    This is a guest post I ve just published at Language Log. The two disciplines are literary studies and computational linguistics. Here s an abstract: Though
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 28, 2013
      This is a guest post I've just published at Language Log. The two disciplines are literary studies and computational linguistics. Here's an abstract:

      Though computational linguistics (CL) dates back to the first efforts in machine translation in the mid 1950s, it is only in the last decade or so that it has had a substantial impact on literary studies through the statistical techniques of corpus linguistics and data mining (know as natural language processing, NLP). In this essay I briefly review the history of computational linguistics, from its early days involving symbolic computing to current developments in NLP, and set that in relationship to academic literary study. In particular, I discuss the deeply problematic struggle that literary study has had with the question of evaluation: What makes good literature? I argue that literary studies should own up to this tension and recognize a distinction between ethical criticism, which is explicitly concerned with values, and naturalist criticism, which sidesteps questions of value in favor of understanding how literature works in the mind and in culture. I then argue that the primary relationship between CL and NLP and literary studies should be through naturalist criticism. I conclude by discussing the relative roles of CL and NLP in a large-scale and long-term investigation of romantic love.


      http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=7300




    • JT Velikovsky
      Hi Bill, Sounds interesting. An NLP analysis of best-selling action-thriller novelist Matthew Reilly (/Ice Station/, etc) shows that he (very deliberately)uses
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 28, 2013
        Hi Bill,

        Sounds interesting. An NLP analysis of best-selling action-thriller novelist Matthew Reilly (Ice Station, etc) shows that he (very deliberately)uses loads of really `exciting' words...
        And, other studies have shown the heart-rate (and, adrenalin) goes up, when we read words like: "murder", "kill" "stab" "strangle" etc...
        Also other studies show: emails that contain 12 certain `positive' words are more likely to succeed.
        (Can't recall them all - but 3 of the 12 are "safe", "discover" and "love" etc )
        ie - those words are (apparently) more likely to make the reader agree with the email, or even - be convinced by it, say, if it is an argument.
        So - NLP certainly reveals a lot...

        Which - in film - ties into the famous `Kuleshhov Effect' experiments... (1920s) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gGl3LJ7vHc
        ie Whenever we (viewers) are presented with any concept/meme/idea (ie - visual image) in a film, we have an emotional reaction, even if, we're not fully aware of it...
        In fact - this is why Christian Metz' project, of using (after Saussure) language structure - as an analogy for `structure and meaning' in film - was misguided...
        A shot is not a word (it contains, about a thousand words, if translated as a description), a Scene is not a sentence (it is at least, a short story) and a Sequence (of scenes) is not a paragraph (it is an even longer short story)... Which, also explains why: Metz later (rightly) abandoned the entire project of using semiotics to explain/analyse film.
        ie - A film contains vastly more information (as: a memeplex holarchy) than, most novels...
        ie: http://storyality.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/storyality-48-on-holons-and-holarchies-and-how-holarchies-work/
        (and in film - you also have: lighting - and, shot-composition - and, actors' inflections... and colour-theory, which: also all creates emotion/meaning)
        (Let alone - what sound & music in film can do, with emotion...)

        Anyway, all very interesting/intriguing...

        Cheers

        JT 

        PS - Bill, I notice you mention in a few posts, that Literary Darwinism says things that were said, 50 years ago... - You may well be right, but can you give some specific examples?



        On 28/09/2013 11:22 PM, Bill Benzon wrote:
         
        This is a guest post I've just published at Language Log. The two disciplines are literary studies and computational linguistics. Here's an abstract:

        Though computational linguistics (CL) dates back to the first efforts in machine translation in the mid 1950s, it is only in the last decade or so that it has had a substantial impact on literary studies through the statistical techniques of corpus linguistics and data mining (know as natural language processing, NLP). In this essay I briefly review the history of computational linguistics, from its early days involving symbolic computing to current developments in NLP, and set that in relationship to academic literary study. In particular, I discuss the deeply problematic struggle that literary study has had with the question of evaluation: What makes good literature? I argue that literary studies should own up to this tension and recognize a distinction between ethical criticism, which is explicitly concerned with values, and naturalist criticism, which sidesteps questions of value in favor of understanding how literature works in the mind and in culture. I then argue that the primary relationship between CL and NLP and literary studies should be through naturalist criticism. I conclude by discussing the relative roles of CL and NLP in a large-scale and long-term investigation of romantic love.


        http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=7300





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