Top keyword abridgements of short stories: A corpus linguistic resource?

Michael Toolan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Interest in the application of corpus linguistic methods in literary linguistics grows apace. One simple use of Scott's Keywords procedure (from his Wordsmith Tools text analysis package) is here reported, since it may be of interest to analysts of narrative text. Automatic' abridgement of a short story, by selecting in their original sequence just those of its sentences in which the most key keyword occurs, creates a partial but semi-coherent and 'resonant' text (not an orthodox summary), where mostly incoherence might have been expected. The top keyword in a short story is most often a focalized character's name (or, as rare alternative, part of the narration's standard lexical means of naming and denoting a particular character). Perhaps a story's top keyword, in its sentential contexts of use, creates a form of foregrounding, a waymarking of more noticeable and noteworthy (not necessarily the most noteworthy) sentences, asserting or reinforcing those sentences' centrality to the developing situation (action and theme).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)181-194
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Literary Semantics
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006


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