A finer definition of neology in English

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Neology can be identified in a text corpus at surface level by automatic means (Renouf 1993a). In a diachronic corpus of journalism a lexical neologism can be found by comparing each word in a stream of data with a baseline index. A semantic neologism is identifiable through the change in the word’s collocational environment (Renouf 1993b). In this paper, we examine the changing status of neologisms across time, tracking the ‘life-cycle’ of a word (Renouf 2007), from its first appearance in our text, through its fluctuations in frequency and popularity, to its possible assimilation into mainstream language, and its possible death and re-birth. The study is based on a corpus of 1.2 billion words of UK mainstream newspaper text spanning 1989–2011.


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