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CQPweb: Introducing frequency breakdown

Watch Andrew Hardie elaborate yet further on how to conduct increasingly sophisticated word searches, including the use of frequency breakdown.
Hello again. We’re starting where we left off last time looking at lock and its spelling variations. One thing that we said was that when we searched for lock with a star on the end, that helps us find spelling variants, but it also finds other words that are related to lock by having suffixes or sometimes compounds joined together. There might be an example of locksmith in here. I’m not going to go through all 7,000 examples. Now because we’ve got these are other words, it actually makes it quite difficult to pick out what is a spelling variation of just lock. Because we’ve got 7,000 examples across 139 pages, we can’t see them all at once.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could just see a list of all the different forms, just all compiled together to see what the different things in the middle of the concordance actually are? Well, there is a function like that and it’s called frequency breakdown. What I’m going to do is a frequency breakdown on this query that I did for lock star. And what it will do is it will show us all of the different things that are lock followed by anything. And here they are.
Like a concordance, this has pages and you can see that the weirder variants often tend to be towards the bottom and are quite rare, as you might expect. That’s actually quite good. We could look through that and decide what forms we need to allow for in our query. The frequency breakdown tool, which tells us how many examples there are of each particular one. And the word lock here, of course, is one of the top three. It’s very often the case that the standard spellings are at the top of the list. That’s really good in terms of specifying and telling us what we need to do for queries. We saw last time that we can do an alternate query.
We can do lock and have it followed by nothing or E. However, let’s say we wanted to look at locked, not lock, but locked. Well we saw on that list that the E-D ending is sometimes spelt T-E. What we can do is this. We can say give us lock followed by E-D or T-E. And if you found other variants, you could add them there as well. Let’s see what this gives us. There we are. Lots of examples of locked. 2000 examples altogether. Let’s use the frequency breakdown to see how many there are of each. And we’ve got almost 2000 of locked spell E-D and then 15 spelled T-E.
There are other variations of spelling as well, not just the ones that we’ve looked at here. Let’s do a new query. Let’s think about the word “sovereign.” I can never remember whether it’s spelt with an E or an A. I think it’s in an E. Yes. Well done. Well done me for remembering how it’s spelled. That’s our standard spelling of “sovereign.” Pause the video and see if you can think how that might be spelled differently in the Early Modern English. New query.
Hopefully while the video was paused, you came up with the fact that it might well be spelt instead of “sover,” it could be spelled with a U here because a U is often used for a V mid-word in this period. You often have, for example, both “love” and “loue” spelled with a U like that. What can we do? What we could do is we could do “sovereign” like that. And we could use an or here, V or U That’s actually a bit clumsy. We know there was only going to be V or U there. We didn’t have to spell it out. We can use another wildcard character for anything, which is the questionmark.
If you put a question mark in it says, find me all words that have this form with some letter here, any one letter. So it could be a V, a U, whatever. But we know that those are only likely possibilities. I’m also going to put another question mark in place of the E and the A, because if I get them mixed up, it seems very likely that people in the 1600s would get them mixed up. And at the end, we know that we like to add our optional Es, so I’m going to add the optional E at the end. So that’s sovereign. And there we are.
We’ve got a whole lot of examples with V, but let’s use the frequency breakdown and see what other examples we’ve got. Yes, most of them are indeed with V, but we have got examples with U. And a nice thing with the frequency breakdown that you can do is click through on these to see the concordance of one particular form. These others like “someraigne” may well be damage to the documents that were transcribed. Let’s have a look at “sovereign” spelt like that. There we go. And indeed there is variation between “ein” with an E and “ain” with an I. That’s a good way of exploring the spelling variation. I’m going to leave you with a challenge.
How would you look at “sovereignty”? So I’ll go back. Here is a hint. You could certainly just add a T there, but it could have all kinds of things after it– a Y an I-E or double E maybe. That won’t do. What do we want there? Again, pause and have a think. The answer is that again you could use a wild card. You could use a star, but normally would expect sovereignty to have at least one letter after it. So instead, we can use the plus, which says find us sovereignt with at least one more letter, but then as many letters as we want. And these are the wild cards that we can use.
There is that query and it should give us plenty of “sovereignty.” Right. That’s that. Thank you for your attention.

This talk is a continuation of the previous one. Andrew Hardie hones your skills in Word searching. He will return to spelling variation, but this time introduce “frequency breakdown”, a way of displaying the variation (including spelling variation) in what one has just searched for.

As usual, put any issues or concerns or simply interesting observations in the comments.

We strongly advise you to listen to Andrew Hardie’s talk in one window of your computer, and open up his program, CQPweb, in another, so that you can practice what he is saying as he goes along. Obviously, you will need to pause his talk periodically.

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