Author Archives: magnusv

analyzing a word-cloud

I have run the text “Text und Werk – zwei Begriffe auf dem Prüfstand” written by Johnny Kondrup, translated from Danish by Frederik Moche and published in Internationales Jahrbuch für Editionswissenschaft, 01/2013, Vol. 27(1), pp. 1-14 – through the digital online-tool “Voyant Tools”. Although short, the text, analyzing the word-cloud shows somehow a couple of remarkable things, which help when reading the article for the first time.
I’m pretty sure that martens (with 19 hits), shillingsburg (15), reusz (15), duriez (11) are names of researchers upon whom Kondrup bases his argumentation, and would for sure start in the reference-list looking for the probably four titles (perhaps 3 if shillingsburg writes together with reusz) and from these titles also build an impression of the context of Kondrups article.
Further on the words lediglich (12 hits), mehr (11) and etwa (11) tell me both that Kondrup (probably) tries to be balanced – lediglich (eng. although) indicates that he’s doing pro et contra – and that he are weighing either arguments, views or utterings against each other, graduating them – mehr (eng. more) – and etwa (eng. like) – tell that he for certain are doing humanistics, and that sort where a high niveau of precicion have to be counterbalanced by this kind of unprecise word in order not to say too much.
One distinction, whose precise definition I would look out for and anticipating when reading the text would be realtext – idealtext (resp. 19 hits and 10).
What my results don’t show are first and foremost the line of argumentation or any conclusion. I have no clue of the structure of the text/article. The title coincides with the major hits (text and werk), it only tells me that he sticks to his them, what’s no surprise.
When startin the close-reading – the text is divided in 28 numbered paragraphs, so no headings are visible before Abstract show up in the end – I quite quicly discover the expected reflection over realtext and idealtext. The ideal-text is a platonic idea, who only by increased grades of similarity never can be reaches… and a real-text is also in a way immaterial… So this distinciton turns out to be rahter philosophical.
I jump to the abstract and am surprised by being told about the connection between critical editing and literary criticism … by second thought it’s not surprising at all, it only didn’t show up at the analysis of the word-cloud. The abstract furthermore sum up the termes real- and ideal- text: ” With regard to the term ‘text’, the concept is separated into the ‘ideal text’, the ‘real text’, and the ‘material text’ – which are again distinguished from the ‘document’.” (p.14).

Dementia causes lexical decline

The Research-text “Longitudinal detection of dementia through lexical and syntactic changes in writing: a case study of three British novelists”, written by the Canadian researchers Xuan Le, Ian Lancashire, Graeme Hirst and Regina Jokel and published in “Literary and Linguistic Computing, Volume 26, Issue 4, 1 December 2011, Pages 435–461” (available at:, argues on the basis of “a large-scale longitudinal study of lexical and syntactic changes in language in Alzheimer’s disease” (Abstract) run on three famous english writers, both healthy and affected, that their “results support [their] hypothesis that signs of dementia can be found in diachronic analyses of patients’ writings” (6 Conclusion). Both Iris Murdoch’s and Agatha Christie’s late writings show “a strong linguistic decline” with regard to grammatical variation or flexibility, while P.D. James’ don’t. The results are though slightly contraticted in some minor fields, and other minor fields brings a slight confusion into the results. The outcome of these discrepancies are, that the researchers are permitted to conclude, that the affected’s lexical patterns show a stronger decline than do their syntactical patterns.

Commenting on the study, I haven’t enough knowledge to match their Level – in neither statistics nor in their methodology. The quantitative evidence always are strong in its specific way, and always are open to criticism With regard to strongness – i.e. from a humanist point of view, one would say weakness – of idea, concept, or even ideology … One argument against – that admittedly lies on a quite different Level than statistics – would be that even by a writer like Christie or Murdoch, it would have to be accepted that they could grow tired or out of shape for some Shorter or longer time … a reasoning that perhaps would soften the often slightly to bombastic and harsh impact one get – not in the way conclusions are drawn, but in the way premices and methodology usually are settled – from Natural science doing research on human beings.