Acts of killing, acts of meaning : an application of corpus pattern analysis to language of animal-killing

Franklin, Emma and Sealey, Alison (2020) Acts of killing, acts of meaning : an application of corpus pattern analysis to language of animal-killing. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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We are currently witnessing unprecedented levels of ecological destruction and violence visited upon nonhumans. Study of the more-than-human world is now being enthusiastically taken up across a range of disciplines, in what has been called the ‘scholarly animal turn’. This thesis brings together concerns of Critical Animal Studies – along with related threads of posthumanism and new materialist thinking – and Corpus Linguistics, specifically Corpus Pattern Analysis (CPA), to produce a data-driven, lexicocentric study of the discourse of animal-killing. CPA, which has been employed predominantly in corpus lexicography, provides a robust and empirically well-founded basis for the analysis of verbs. Verbs are chosen as they act as the pivot of a clause; analysing them also uncovers their arguments – in this case, participants in material-discursive ‘killing’ events. This project analyses 15 ‘killing’ verbs using CPA as a basis, in what I term a corpus-lexicographical discourse analysis. The data is sampled from an animal-themed corpus of around 9 million words of contemporary British English, and the British National Corpus is used for reference. The findings are both methodological and substantive. CPA is found to be a reliable empirical starting point for discourse analysis, and the lexicographical practice of establishing linguistic ‘norms’ is critical to the identification of anomalous uses. The thesis presents evidence of anthropocentrism inherent in the English lexicon, and demonstrates several ways in which distance is created between participants of ‘killing’ constructions. The analysis also reveals specific ways that verbs can obfuscate, deontologise and deindividualise their arguments. The recommendations, for discourse analysts, include the adoption of CPA and a critical analysis of its resulting patterns in order to demonstrate the precise mechanisms by which verb use can either oppress or empower individuals. Social justice advocates are also alerted to potentially harmful language that might undermine their cause.

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Thesis (PhD)
?? corpus linguisticscorpus pattern analysishuman-animal studiescorpus lexicographyargumentationcritical animal studiesverbs ??
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01 Apr 2020 08:30
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 05:50