What's in a Word-list? Investigating Word Frequency and Keyword Extraction

Title What's in a Word-list? Investigating Word Frequency and Keyword Extraction
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2009
Authors / EditorsArcher, D.
Series TitleDigital Research in the Arts and Humanities
Number of Pages200
Abstract / Notes

The frequency with which particular words are used in a text can tell us something meaningful both about that text and also about its author because their choice of words is seldom random. Focusing on the most frequent lexical items of a number of generated word frequency lists can help us to determine whether all the texts are written by the same author. Alternatively, they might wish to determine whether the most frequent words of a given text (captured by its word frequency list) are suggestive of potentially meaningful patterns that could have been overlooked had the text been read manually. This edited collection brings together cutting-edge research written by leading experts on the field on the construction of word-lists for the analysis of both frequency and keyword usage. Taken together, these papers provide a comprehensive and up-to-date survey of the most exciting research being conducted in this subject.

What's in a World-list? is part of the Digital Research in the Arts and Humanities series.

Methods Network Expert Seminar on Linguistics

This volume originated from a Methods Network event held on 8 September 2005. Text and audio recordings of each speaker's paper are available from the Methods Network Expert Seminar pages.

Table of contents

  • Does frequency really matter? - Dawn Archer
  • Word frequency use or misuse? - John M. Kirk
  • Word frequency, statistical stylistics and authorship attribution - David L. Hoover
  • Word frequency in context: alternative architectures for examining related words, register variation and historical change - Mark Davies
  • Issues for historical and regional corpora: first catch your word - Christian Kay
  • In search of a bad reference corpus - Mike Scott
  • Keywords and moral panics: Mary Whitehouse and media censorship - Tony McEnery
  • 'The question is, how cruel is it?' Keywords, foxhunting and the House of Commons - Paul Baker
  • Love – 'a familiar or a devil'? An exploration of key domains in Shakespeare's comedies and tragedies - Dawn Archer, Jonathan Culpeper and Paul Rayson
  • Promoting the wider use of word frequency and keyword extraction techniques - Dawn Archer


'This book represents an impressive collection written by internationally renowned experts in the field, which provide insights into a range of key issues of theoretical and practical relevance in using wordlists and keyword lists, the backbone of the corpus-based approach to text analysis. I also find the case studies presented in these chapters both interesting and inspiring.'
Richard Xiao, Edge Hill University, UK

'An exciting collection exploring issues that are fundamental to corpus linguistics and demonstrating the wider potential of corpus methods for language studies. A stimulating book in many ways.'
Michaela Mahlberg, University of Liverpool, UK

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