Linguistic Complexity across Two Early Modern English Scientific Text Types
AbstractIn linguistics the concept of complexity has been analysed from various perspectives, among them language typology and the speech/writing distinction. Within intralinguistic studies, certain key linguistic features associated with reduced or increased complexity have been identified. These features occur in different patterns across various registers and their frequency is an indicator of the level of complexity of different kinds of texts. The concept of complexity has not, to date, been evaluated in early English medical writing, especiallyin terms of different text types. Thus, the present article analyses linguistic complexity in two Early Modern English medical texts, a surgical treatise (ff. 34r-73v) and a collection of medical recipes (ff. 74r-121v) housed as MS Hunter 135 in Glasgow University Library. Since they represent two different types of medical text, they can be productively compared in terms of linguistic complexity. The results obtained confirm that the surgical treatise is more complex than the collection of medical recipes owing to the higher presence of linguistic features denoting increased complexity in the former and of those indicating reduced linguistic complexity in the latter.
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