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Språklig rytm i skönlitterär prosa. En fallstudie i Karin Boyes Kallocain
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of Linguistics and Philology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of Scandinavian Languages.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4636-7081
2018 (Swedish)In: Samlaren: tidskrift för svensk litteraturvetenskaplig forskning, ISSN 0348-6133, E-ISSN 2002-3871, Vol. 139, p. 128-161Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Sara Stymne, Department of Linguistics and Philology, Uppsala University

Johan Svedjedal, Department of Literature, Uppsala University

Carin Östman, Department of Scandinavian Languages, Uppsala University

Linguistic Rhythm in Narrative Prose: the case of Karin Boye’s Kallocain (Språklig rytm i skönlitterär prosa. En fallstudie i Karin Boyes Kallocain)

The concept of rhythm in prose is ambiguous, and there is no consensus on how to define it. In this work, we focus on linguistic rhythm, at word, sentence and paragraph levels. We adopt and slightly extend rhythm indicators used in previous research, and show that these can be calculated fully automatically, on a much larger scale than previously done.

We adopt the Swedish poet and novelist Karin Boye’s (1900–41) novel Kallocain (1940), as a case study. It is an icily dystopian depiction of a totalitarian future, where the protagonist Leo Kall first embraces this system, but for various reasons later rebels against it. The peripety comes when he gives a public speech, questioning the State. It has been pointed out that the novel from precisely this point on is characterized by a much freer rhythm, and that Boye as an author had considerable interest in questions of linguistic rhythm. This paper sets out to test this hypothesis by applying sixteen indicators of linguistic rhythm in narrative prose (such as word length, sentence length, ratio of punctuation, etc.).

We first note that we can expect differences between narrative and dialogue and limit most of our study to the first-person narrative. We find that there are significant differences mainly between phrase and word lengths in the parts before and after Leo Kall’s conversion. In a further investigation we note that there is also great variation among indicators within each part of the novel. We also show that machine learning can be used to differentiate small segments from each part of the novel, with higher accuracy than a random classifier. Finally, we undertake a small study of dialogue, which, however is mainly inconclusive. In summary we find some support for the claim that there is a rhythm break in Kallocain. We also believe that our study is important from a methodological point of view, since it provides a method for largescale studies of prose rhythm in the future.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Svenska Litteratursällskapet, 2018. Vol. 139, p. 128-161
Keywords [en]
Karin Boye, Literary stylistics, Linguistic rhythm in narrative prose, Stylometry, Digital Humanities
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-378714OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-378714DiVA, id: diva2:1294773
Available from: 2019-03-08 Created: 2019-03-08 Last updated: 2019-03-13Bibliographically approved

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