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Tired mind or tired hand?

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Abstract

During the years 1856–1902 the Baltic German nobleman Eduard von Oettingen wrote regularly to his wife Julie. Comparing three different time phases (letters written at the age of 27–30, 45–49 and 66–69), I will discuss potential age-dependent changes in syntactic complexity, lexical frequency as well as in readability scores and carry out a lexical-semantic analysis using LIWC2007. My case study shows that the majority of alterations lie within von Oettingen’s middle adulthood, when he was at the height of his career and experiencing a substantial workload. Linguistic changes in his late adulthood however may be due to a ‘tired hand’, i.e. to the increased amount of energy needed to fulfil the task of writing by hand.

References

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