A proposed method of clarifying the meaning of contentious political-cultural words: The case of country and nation

Mats Mobärg


This article discusses how linguistic-combinatory methods can be used to add precision to our understanding of contentious words from the political-cultural field. Eleven English authors’ use of the words country and nation has been investigated and the focus is placed on two authors who show an especially frequent use of nation relative to country, Shakespeare and Marie Corelli. It is shown that nation tends to select human negative-emotional lexical companions to a higher degree than country, and that this difference between the two words reflects their original etymological meanings. It is proposed that a more developed test design could be fruitfully used on a larger material.


country; nation; nationality words; collocation; etymology; word frequency; Shakespeare; Marie Corelli

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