University of Cambridge > > Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science > Medical discourse and scientific thought-styles: what changes and what remains constant

Medical discourse and scientific thought-styles: what changes and what remains constant

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Karin Ekholm.

Corpus linguistic studies have shown that it is possible to trace the lines of changing thought-styles in different layers of writing in more detail than has been done before. For this purpose, we are compiling a large electronic database with background information of language-external facts. Two parts have already been published: Middle English Medical Texts 1375–1500 (2005) and Early Modern English Medical Texts 1500–1700 (2010). The third part, Late Modern English Medical Texts 1700–1800, is under way. We have already conducted some studies with focus on what changes and how and why changes take place. The results show that conventions are carried over from previous texts, and stylistic innovations take place within the existing frame of old traditions. The great majority of writings do not change much, or they change very slowly. The old scholastic way of writing with frequent references to authorities gains new stylistic functions, e.g. to lend an aura of learning to texts for more heterogeneous and popular audiences in the early modern period. In my talk I shall explain the theoretical and methodological background, describe the corpus, and finish with an empirical study of keyword analysis.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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