Building a Representative Theater Corpus

A Broader View of Nineteenth-Century French

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Angus Grieve-Smith
    Pages 1-5
  3. Angus Grieve-Smith
    Pages 17-24
  4. Angus Grieve-Smith
    Pages 25-34
  5. Angus Grieve-Smith
    Pages 55-71
  6. Angus Grieve-Smith
    Pages 73-84
  7. Angus Grieve-Smith
    Pages 85-87
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 89-104

About this book


“With this exciting book, Angus Grieve-Smith provides answers to a long-standing issue in the study of languages: how can linguists provide the most full-fledged picture of how language was used in past centuries? Indeed, his historical syntax study of theater corpora not only enriches our knowledge of 19th Century French by documenting representations of spoken French; it also never loses sight of corpus design issues, such as social factors and the representativeness of sample collection.” --Camille Debras, Maître de conférences, Université Paris Nanterre, France.

 “With this introduction to a new corpus of Parisian plays and two accompanying case studies, Grieve-Smith pushes us to reconsider questions of representation in historical written corpora, particularly when such corpora are intended to capture to the extent possible spontaneous conversational language. This book is a powerful reminder that inferences about past states of language, and how they relate to present states, are profoundly affected by the data upon which we base our analyses.” –Alexandra D’Arcy, Associate Dean Research, Faculty of Humanities, University of Victoria, Canada, and author of Discourse-Pragmatic Variation in Context: Eight hundred years of LIKE (John Benjamins, 2017).

The Digital Parisian Stage Project aims to compile a corpus of plays that are representative of performances in the theaters of Paris through history. This book surveys existing corpora that cover the nineteenth century, lays out the issue of corpus representativeness in detail, and, using a random sample of plays from this period, presents two case studies of language in use in the Napoleonic era. It presents a compelling argument for the compilation and use of representative corpora in linguistic study, and will be of interest to those working in the fields of corpus linguistics, digital humanities, and history of the theater.

Angus Grieve-Smith is Web Developer at the New School in New York, USA.  He completed his PhD in Linguistics at the University of New Mexico, USA.  He has taught Linguistics, French and Cognitive Science at Saint John's University, Montclair State University and Hofstra University, USA.


negation synchrony diachrony corpus design corpus representativeness language in use language and theatre performance language and class The Digital Parisian Stage usage-based French language digital humanities Napoleon Jespersen's Cycle dislocation nineteenth century

Authors and affiliations

  • Angus Grieve-Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.The New SchoolNew YorkUSA

Bibliographic information