Tag Archives: Justyna

Sociolinguistics Symposium 21: conference reflections

Linguistic DNA Co-Investigator Justyna Robinson attended the Sociolinguistics Symposium at the University of Murcia, Spain, 15-18 June. This year’s conference theme was ‘attitudes and prestige’, and the event included over 1,000 presentations. Justyna represented LDNA with a poster in the general poster session entitled ‘Linguistic DNA: Modelling concepts and semantic change in English, 1500-1800’. Below, she reflects on her experience:

For the LDNA project, one of the really important panel sessions was the one organised by Terttu Nevalainen and Marijke van der Wal, entitled Historical sociolinguistics: Dispelling myths about the past. The session included papers which aimed at revisiting a range of assumptions about the past and the study of the past that are not supported by historical sociolinguistic research. In doing so, particularly important for LDNA, were papers of a methodological nature in which methodologies of historical linguistic research were interrogated. For example, in ‘People, work, values: Tracing societal change through linguistic shifts’, Minna Palander-Collin, Anni Sairio, Minna Nevala, and Brendan Humphries (University of Helsinki) explored social changes in Britain between 1750 and 1900 by analysing keywords within the conceptual domains of PEOPLE, WORD, and VALUES. Questions that emerged from the discussion of this research included whether social shifts can be identified in keywords. This quickly led to asking what concepts are and what kind of relationship exists between keywords and concepts. Although the answer to this question wasn’t decided, there was a unanimous desire to explore the question further. Another observation from Palander-Collin et al.’s talk was that certain concepts can linger on in language when in practice the real–life referents designated by the concepts may be long gone. Miriam Meyerhoff added that this issue was also observed in New Zealand data, i.e. researchers looking at Maori keywords found out that references to certain plants lingered on in narratives of a community, well after the time these plants were used. In this discussion the audience continued to reference the LDNA project as well. It was great to hear that more and more people know about LDNA and are following our progress.

The LDNA poster presentation was set up in a beautiful setting in one of the cloisters at Murcia University. The poster attracted a lot of attention. In it, we presented first findings from using positive and negative PMI values to model discursive concepts around the word soldier in the window of +/-100 words. Having set such a large proximity window. we did not initially know whether what we would find would be interesting and useful in our quest to determine what concepts are. One conclusion from this analysis was that large proximity windows still yield meaningful information and clear semantic domains emerge that are important in grasping the discursive concepts around soldier. Another methodological finding of this research is the value of using negative PMI values in improving our understanding of what concepts are. Thus, soldier shows a notably rare association with a group or items that are a semantically cohesive group. These include religious terms, such as sin and church. One may ask whether this systematic weak correlation may indicate the end of a disappearing concept or the beginning of the development of a new concept. These questions will be soon answered by looking at our data diachronically.


Abstracts from the conference are available from the conference website.

From Spring to Summer: LDNA on the road

June 2016:
For the past couple of months, our rolling horizon has looked increasingly full of activity. This new blogpost provides a brief update on where we’ve been and where we’re going. We’ll be aiming to give more thorough reports on some of these activities after the events.

Where we’ve been

Entrance to University Museum, UtrechtIn May, Susan, Iona and Mike travelled to Utrecht, at the invitation of Joris van Eijnatten and Jaap Verheul. Together with colleagues from Sheffield’s History Department, we presented the different strands of Digital Humanities work ongoing at Sheffield. We learned much from our exchanges with Utrecht’s AsymEnc and Translantis research programs, and enjoyed shared intellectual probing of visualisations of change across time. We look forward to continued engagement with each others’ work.

A week later, Seth and Justyna participated in This&THATCamp at the University of Sussex (pictured), with LDNA emerging second in a popular poll of topics for discussion at this un-conference-style event. Productive conversations across the two days covered data visualisation, data manipulation, text analytics, digital humanities and even data sonification. We hope to hear more from Julie Weeds and others when the LDNA team return to Brighton in September.

Next week, we’ll be calling on colleagues at the HRI to talk us through their experience visualising complex humanities data. Richard Ward (Digital Panopticon) and Dirk Rohman (Migration of Faith) have agreed to walk us through their decision-making processes, and talk through the role of different visualisations in exploring, analysing, and explaining current findings.

Where we’re going

The LDNA team are also gearing up for a summer of presentations:

  • Justyna Robinson will be representing LDNA at Sociolinguistics Symposium (Murcia, 15-18 June), as well as sharing the latest analysis from her longitudinal study of semantic variation focused on polysemous adjectives in South Yorkshire speech. Catch LDNA in the general poster session on Friday (17th), and Justyna’s paper at 3pm on Thursday. #SS21
  • Susan Fitzmaurice is in Saarland, as first guest speaker at the Historical Corpus Linguistics event hosted by the IDeaL research centre, also on Thursday (16th June) at 2:15pm. Her paper is subtitled “Discursive semantics and the quest for the automatic identification of concepts and conceptual change in English 1500-1800”. #IDeaL
  • In July, the Glasgow LDNA team are Krakow-bound for DH2016 (11-16 July). The LDNA poster, part of the Semantic Interpretations group, is currently allocated to Booth 58 during the Wednesday evening poster session. Draft programme.
  • Later in July, Iona heads to SHARP 2016 in Paris (18-22). This year, the bi-lingual Society are focusing on “Languages of the Book”, with Iona’s contribution drawing on her doctoral research (subtitle: European Borrowings in 16th and 17th Century English Translations of “the Book of Books”) and giving attention to the role of other languages in concept formation in early modern English (a special concern for LDNA’s work with EEBO-TCP).
  • In August, Iona is one of several Sheffield early modernists bound for the Sixteenth Century Society Conference in Bruges. In addition to a paper in panel 241, “The Vagaries of Translation in the Early Modern World” (Saturday 20th, 10:30am), Iona will also be hosting a unique LDNA poster session at the book exhibit. (Details to follow)
  • The following week (22-26 August), Seth, Justyna and Susan will be at ICEHL 19 in Essen. Seth and Susan will be talking LDNA semantics from 2pm on Tuesday 23rd.

Back in the UK, on 5 September, LDNA (and the University of Sussex) host our second methodological workshop, focused on data visualisation and linguistic change. Invitations to a select group of speakers have gone out, and we’re looking forward to a hands-on workshop using project data. Members of our network who would like to participate are invited to get in touch.

And back in Sheffield, LDNA is playing a key role in the 2016 Digital Humanities Congress, 8-10 September, hosting two panel sessions dedicated to textual analytics. Our co-speakers include contacts from Varieng and CRASSH.  Early bird registration ends 30th June.