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Semantic prosody revisited

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This paper considers the contentious term 'semantic prosody' and discusses a number of aspects of the concept described by the term. It is pointed out that although many writers use it to refer to the implied attitudinal meaning of a word, Sinclair uses the term to refer to the discourse function of a unit of meaning. Problems of apparent counter-examples, when a word or unit does not have the semantic prosody that is typical of it, are discussed. The second point made is that the phenomena described as 'semantic prosody' can be regarded as observational data, but that they are often used to explain subjective reactions to a given text or to predict such reactions. The issues raised by these different uses are discussed. Finally, the pitfalls of using concordance lines to observe attitudinal language in highly opinionated texts are discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2007

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