Paul Brocklebank


This paper investigates the distribution of words and clusters within a single corpus and across a pair of related corpora. With a corpus containing Samuel Johnson’s periodical essays as the target corpus and a corpus of Addison’s essays as the reference corpus, it is shown how standard techniques for identifying keywords can be extended to identifying distributional tendencies within texts at the levels of sentence, paragraph and whole section/essay. Supplementing the investigation with collocational and concordance data, the main keywords, including TO at sentence, AND at paragraph, BY at essay level, and the main three-word clusters at the various levels, are discussed. It is argued that the methods described are useful additions to the corpus stylistic researcher’s arsenal of techniques.


corpus stylistics; lexical distributions; eighteenth-century essays; keywords; key clusters; Samuel Johnson

Full Text:


Show references Hide references

Barlow, M. (2014) ‘Ordering of elements in learner corpora.’ Learner Corpus Studies in
Asia and the World 2, 127-136.

Bate, W. J. (1955) The Achievement of Samuel Johnson. New York: Oxford University

Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S. and Finegan, E. (1999) The Longman
Grammar of Spoken and Written English. London: Longman.

Brocklebank, P. (2013) ‘Johnson and the eighteenth-century periodical essay: A corpusbased
approach.’ English Language Overseas Perspectives and Enquiries 10, 21-32.

Culpeper, J. (2009) ‘Keyness: Words, parts-of-speech and semantic categories in the
character-talk of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.’ International Journal of Corpus
Linguistics 14/1, 29-59.

Fischer-Starcke, B. (2009) ‘Keywords and frequent phrases of Jane Austen’s Pride and
Prejudice: A corpus-stylistic analysis.’ International Journal of Corpus Linguistics
14 /4, 492-523.

Fletcher, W. H. (2002) kfNgram. Available at: http://www.kwicfi
kfNgramHelp.html (accessed November 2014).

Mahlberg, M. (2007) ‘Clusters, key clusters and local textual functions in Dickens.’
Corpora 2/1, 1-31.

Mahlberg, M. (2009) ‘Corpus stylistics and the Pickwickian watering-pot.’ In: Baker, P.
(ed.) Contemporary Corpus Linguistics. London: Continuum. 47-63.

Rogers, P. (1993) ‘The Rambler and the eighteenth-century periodical essay: A dissenting
view.’ In: Downie, J. A. and Corns, T. N. (eds) Telling People What to Think: Early
Eighteenth-Century Periodicals from The Review to The Rambler. London: Frank
Cass & Co. Ltd. 118-129.

Scott, M. (2007) WordSmith Tools 4.0. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Wimsatt, W. K. (1941) The Prose Style of Samuel Johnson. New Haven: Yale University

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.