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Empirical Methods in Language Studies

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Edited By Krzysztof Kosecki and Janusz Badio

«Empirical Methods in Language Studies» presents 22 papers employing a broad range of empirical methods in the analysis of various aspects of language and communication. The individual texts offer contributions to the description of conceptual strategies, syntax, semantics, non-verbal communication, language learning, discourse, and literature.
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Identifying and measuring personification in journalistic discourse

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Abstract: This article reports on the results of research that examines the degree of the metaphoricity of state names as they appear in press texts on international relations (IR). More specifically, the degree of the personification of these names is thoroughly examined. Initially, a rigorous criterion for establishing what constitutes a state name has to be assumed. Consequently, the search involves all the names of the 192 members of the United Nations (as of February 2011). Our search covers all possible (grammatical) patterns of use as well as the linguistic behaviours of the widest possible range of names. The results of this investigation do not confirm the widely held belief about the ubiquity and pervasiveness of the “state is a person” metaphor.

Keywords: metaphor, personification, state name, quantitative and qualitative analysis

1. Introduction

The aim of the study reported on in this article1 is to establish the realistic degree of metaphoricity among proper names in the discourse of international relations. Our linguistic search focusing on state names will concern their alleged ubiquitous personification. The choice of journalistic language for this purpose may seem deliberate, as this type of language is commonly believed to be more florid than sober and unembellished scientific discourses (cf. Croft & Cruse, 2005). However, this assumption is also commonly rejected in the literature (see, e.g., Nerlich & Koteyko, 2009, p. 156). In their detailed study on metaphor identification, Steen et al. (2010) have established that 79.9% of words...

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