“There was much new to grok”: an analysis of word coinage in science fiction literature

Gee, Matt (2023) “There was much new to grok”: an analysis of word coinage in science fiction literature. Linguistics Vanguard, 9 (s3). pp. 307-316. ISSN 2199-174X

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As can be witnessed in projects such as The Oxford dictionary of science fiction (Prucher 2007), science fiction has been fertile ground for the creation of new words and concepts. Whereas the aforementioned dictionary was constructed by eliciting examples and citations from volunteers, this paper presents an initial foray into data-driven methods for uncovering lexis unique to science fiction. Words unique to science fiction texts are extracted by comparing a science fiction corpus against the British National Corpus (BNC Consortium 2007) to produce a list of 306 neologisms from 74 texts. In addition, this study seeks to examine the ways in which authors impart the meaning of such words to the reader, drawing on frameworks of semantic word relations and work in cognitive linguistics. This reveals the use of definitions and glosses by the authors, both in narration and direct speech, co-occurrence with synonyms, and the drip-feeding of attributes pertaining to the concept being referenced. In addition, characters can be shown to struggle with the concepts to which neologisms refer, allowing authors to explore themes of alienation and other-worldliness.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1515/lingvan-2023-0011
24 February 2023Accepted
10 November 2023Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: corpus linguistics, science fiction, lexis, neology, cognitive linguistics
Subjects: CAH19 - language and area studies > CAH19-01 - English studies > CAH19-01-07 - linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > College of English and Media
Depositing User: Matthew Gee
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2023 14:03
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2024 12:08
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15035

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