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Semantic Fields and Polysemy A Correspondence Analysis Approach Semantic Fields Studying semantic fields or literary themes in texts quickly confronts the researcher with a paradox A computer string search will produce a list of the frequencies of words potentially related to the semantic field But polysemy--the fact that many words have multiple significations--means that there is an un-measured difference between the potential and the real allusions The semantic field of solitude or loneliness is a case in point Important from a sociological and psychological perspective as an indication of imperfect adaptation to ones milieu it is also a frequently occurring literary theme In French the problem of polysemy is acute because seul means both alone and only so it is difficult to imagine that the expression ma seule cravate my only tie having much to do with solitude Similarly the verb abandonner to abandon is indistinguishable by computer from sabandonner to let oneself go The Problem of Disambiguation The only practical response to such difficulties seems to be disambiguation by human informants But one can legitimately be concerned about the reliability of such a process The consistency of results from one informant to another when examining the same data would seem to be a reasonable touch-stone for the reliability of the disambiguation process It seems appropriate to expect some personal variability among informants so the choice of statistical methods to be used requires some care An intra-class correlation coefficient similar to Cohens kappa has been chosen as a measure of agreement among the individual choices made by each informant on each word potentially evoking solitude Correspondence analysis has been used in order to provide a visual representation of how the data interact Data Nine 20th century novels written in the first person were chosen for this analysis Bernanos Journal dun cur de campagne Camus Ltranger and La Chute Cline Voyage au bout de la nuit Gide LImmoraliste
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