The use of online resources for the synchronic and diacronic study of political language. The case of "representative democracy"

Authors

  • Federico Zanettin Universita di Perugia
  • Fausto Proietti University of Perugia

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.2532-8816/12410

Keywords:

representative democracy, digital archives, 18th century, translation, quantitative/qualitative historical research

Abstract

In this article we wish to provide a survey of online documentary resources for the historical study of political thought and illustrate a series of “good practices” which could be adopted to optimize the use of publicly available digital collections in historiographical research. As a case study, we first report on the search, in very large digital collections of historical documents, for occurrences of the phrase “representative democracy” (and its dictionary equivalents in Italian and French) between 1778, the first occurrence of the term recorded in our data, and 1799. Most of the occurrences retrieved through a careful process of selection and scrutiny have not previously been discussed in the literature. In the last part of the article we discuss the contribution of text analysis tools to diachronic research, looking at frequency data from resources such as Google Books Ngram Viewer and HathiTrust + Bookworm, and comparing findings about the lexical profiles of “democracy” and “representative democracy” in historical and contemporary corpora.

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Published

2021-09-09

How to Cite

Zanettin, F., & Proietti, F. (2021). The use of online resources for the synchronic and diacronic study of political language. The case of "representative democracy". Umanistica Digitale, (10), 165–192. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.2532-8816/12410

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Section

Articles