Representing inequality in language

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Using large, computerized corpora, this study aims to provide lexico-grammatical evidence for patterns or constructions in language pertaining to domains such as “power”, “dominance”, “inequality” or “status”. The study will specifically focus on the verbal uses of brook and countenance, lemmas that are pivotal to the domains in question and whose semantic and pragmatic meanings will be associated with discourses of inequality and supremacy, subordination and authorization. The verbal lemmas will turn out less as markers of energy transfer (as might be expected from the prototypical constructional meaning of transitive clauses in which they ordinarily occur) than as markers of perceived social implications, with a clear focus on the constructing and representational nature of their uses. In addition to offering a contribution to language-dependent “dominance”, “inequality”, “power”, “status” research, this paper will also demonstrate the indispensable use of corpus-linguistic methods within a predominantly functional framework (drawing its main inspirations from current research in neo-Firthian linguistics, Frame Semantics and Cognitive Linguistics in particular).


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