The construction of meaning in the correspondence of Charles Darwin

Vajn, Dominik (2015). The construction of meaning in the correspondence of Charles Darwin. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis analyses the process of construction of linguistic meaning from a diachronic perspective. The analysis is based on the theories of intertextuality and social construction and applies a corpus analysis of collocations and paraphrases of key notions discussed in Darwin’s correspondence. In particular, the focus of the analysis is on the terms \(species\) and \(varieties\) with the aim to observe how the meanings of these terms are formed in a process of social negotiation. The thesis analyses the difference in the meanings of these terms, but also focuses on the diachronic dimension of their use in the correspondence, which allows for the observation of how different interpretations of meanings emerge in discourse. Thus far, diachronic studies in the field of corpus linguistics focused on comparing different historical corpora rather than observing the diachronic change of the immediate contextual environment of particular terms. The results presented in this thesis show that the meanings of terms are not only formed of different interpretations in discourse, but that these interpretations can be specific to particular temporal spans in discourse.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies
Funders: Other
Other Funders: The University of Birmingham, Open Society Foundations
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics


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