Searching for the unspeakable : An iterative approach to designing a corpus of texts about a taboo topic

Eyssette, S. and Brookes, G. (2024) Searching for the unspeakable : An iterative approach to designing a corpus of texts about a taboo topic. Research Methods in Applied Linguistics, 3 (2): 100119. ISSN 2772-7661

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Abstract

Taboo topics tend, by their definition, to be censored in language use, and are thus often absent from discourse. When such topics are discussed, they tend to be referred to indirectly, for example through euphemistic language. This presents a challenge for the design and construction of topic-specific corpora, then, when the topic being investigated might be considered taboo within the culture and/or discourse context under study. In this article, we explore the challenges involved in attempting to construct a corpus of news media texts that are ‘about’ a taboo topic. Focusing on the case of incest – an issue deeply entrenched in social and linguistic taboos – we present an iterative, corpus-assisted approach to designing, assessing and (re)constructing a corpus of UK newspaper articles about this topic. As well as contributing to our understanding of the representation of incest in UK news media, this article underscores the importance of transparency and reflexivity in the process of (iterative) corpus design and serves to demonstrate how the reporting of this process might proceed in other studies whose data similarly represent a product of iterative design.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Research Methods in Applied Linguistics
Additional Information:
Export Date: 30 May 2024
ID Code:
220769
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
30 May 2024 09:00
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
31 May 2024 01:54