Friday, April 20, 2012

A most overdue post

I have been slack with my posts....just like every academic on the planet I'm way too busy. At the moment I am preparing a plenary with my PhD student for ISFC looking at text visualisation using a corpus of Star Trek transcripts. The theme of the conference is "To boldly go..." so how could I resist.

I'm looking at Spock's discourse in relation to patterning of evaluative language and hoping to show how visualising long-range patterns can help the discourse analyst/corpus linguist. One of my colleagues has noticed the prevalence of appreciations (language about aesthetic value)  such as 'interesting' and 'fascinating' in televisual construal of characters such as Sheldon in the Big Bang Theory who she hypothesises is intertextually related to Spock.

Playing around a bit with my corpus I noticed quite a few instances of "a most" (a kind of old-fashioned sounding intensifier) in Spock's talk...."A most" frequently collocated with appreciations (rather than affect, as we would expect for a half-Vulcan). According to google n-grams this intensifier was most often used in the early to mid 19th century and had declined markedly in use by the 60s....I wonder if Spock is intertextually channeling that other great 'logical' mind, Sherlock Holmes? Compare:

Spock: Yes. Quite all right, Doctor. A most fascinating thing happened. Apparently, the Companion imparted to me a rather quaint, old-fashioned electric shock of respectable voltage.

Holmes: Lestrade I fear that I have been engaged on a case which has necessitated my attention to be devoted exclusively to chemical analysis for the last three weeks. It has been a most fascinating problem, did you hear of it?

I randomly searched for "a most" and "spock" on Twitter...she delivered:

Writing a most logical essay on bondage and feminism in my Spocktee,  would be so proud. Or disturbed. Whichever.

1 comment:

  1. I have been slack with my posts....just like every academic on the planet I'm way too busy.