Diachronic Analysis of the Profane Words in English Song Lyrics:
A Computational Linguistics Perspective
Keywords:English song lyrics, Corpus computational tools, diachronic study, f-word, spoken English
This diachronic study aims to explore the linguistic phenomena of the verb f-word in English song lyrics across genres and time via various corpus computational tools. A specialised corpus named Diachronic Corpus of English Song Lyrics (DCOESL) consisting of Country, Pop, Rhythm and Blues (R&B), and Rock genres from the years 1960 to 2009, was built for the analysis. Linguistics analysis of English song lyrics corpus was used as the research design. Computational corpus instruments were adopted to generate data. The findings reveal that corpus computational tools it has provided an avenue for researchers to explore languages across time. Additionally, the study shows that f-word in English song lyrics experience ascending trend since the 1980s, with highest occurrences in R&B (38pmw). F-word in DCOESL has strong collocational strength with personal pronoun me (17321pmw), MI=3.442. Personal pronoun me is very significant to the node f-word, T-score=3.274. F-word in DCOESL has highest significant lexical association with f-word in the spoken register of COCA, G2COCASPOKEN=102.40, df=1, p<.0001. It exhibits that the highest occurrences of f-word in DCOESL reflects social actions and a high preference for simple present tense, and simple sentence structure. In conclusion, the computational corpus analysis of f-word in English song lyrics has found that f-word prominently co-occur with personal pronoun in simple sentence structure and in simple present tense, in order to mirror English conversational discourse. The implication of this study is English song lyrics, especially from R&B genre, are a potentially authentic corpus resource for exploring spoken English.
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