Intraindividuelle Variation auf lexikalisch-semantischer Ebene bei unroutinierten Schreibern des 19. Jahrhunderts
Lexis and semantics are under-researched fields both in contemporary and historical sociolinguistics. This paper focuses on intra-speaker variation in texts written by unroutined writers of the 19th century and examines different types of variation in the areas of lexis and semantics. Our data are taken from a new corpus of historical patients’ documents (see http://copadocs.de), which is currently being compiled as part of our research project “Flexible Writers in Language History”. In order to analyse lexical-semantic variation, we combine a number of different methods. An onomasiological approach is used to explore one writer’s linguistic repertoire and use of terms for women, while a structural approach allows us to compare functionally equivalent structures, such as routine formulae and expressions of a writer’s origo (e.g. I, here, now). Finally, we examine the use of emotional lexis in texts by writers diagnosed with melancholia, which is found to be more frequent as compared to a control group. Our findings provide evidence for considerable intra-speaker variation in lower-class writing. In addition, the emphasis on lexis is shown to have particular value for the investigation of patients’ texts, as this approach provides insights into the stylistic repertoires of historical writers which would otherwise remain hidden.