Methodological Tools

Identifying and analyzing religious language is a gargantuan task. This page contains links to some of the tools that can help us make sense of it.

Explicit Religious Vocabulary Lists

Michael Lessard-Clouston’s Complete Theological Word List (2010)
100 frequent technical vocabulary words from lectures in a graduate school of Christian theology in central Canada.

Thomas Chase’s The English Religious Lexis, now in The Historical Thesaurus of English (1988)
a detailed semantic classification
of the religious vocabulary in English from Anglo-Saxon times to the present
search function
sections on morality and faith

‘S9 religion and the supernatural’ sub-category of the UCREL Semantic Analysis System (USAS)
a list of 1,167 single words and 232 multi-word units, taken from large representative corpora like the BNC and large dictionaries like the Collins English Dictionary.
The full USAS set is used in WMatrix (see below).

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Existing Corpora and Archives

The BNC, XML Edition
100 million-word collection of written and spoken samples of English representing a wide cross-section of British English in the
late twentieth century

The Corpus of Global Web-based English (GloWbE)
1.9 billion-word collection of texts from 1.8 million web pages from twenty different countries, collected in December 2012

The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA)
560 million words of text (20 million words each year from 1990 to 2018), from a wide range of texts

Sub-section D. RELIGION of The Brown Corpus and
Sub-section D. RELIGION of The Lancaster Oslo/Bergan Corpus (LOB)
Both containing 17 explicitly religious texts

Sermon Audio
An online conservative Christian sermon archive. This archive is international in scope but largely American-based.
Many audio files are accompanied by transcriptions.

Inaugural Prayers Through History — The Ultimate Archive
The texts of invocations and benedictions at American presidential inaugurals since 1937 when the practice began.

The American Presidency Project
The American Presidency Project is the only free online searchable database including all of:

  • Donald Trump’s Twitter 2017-2020
  • The Messages and Papers of the Presidents: 1789-1929
  • The Public Papers of the Presidents: since 1929
  • The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents: 1977-2009
  • The Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents: post-2009

British Political Speech Archive
An archive which currently holds texts of speeches given by Conservative, Labour and Liberal/Liberal Democrat Party leaders going back to 1895.

Corpus of English Religious Prose (COREP)
A diachronic, multi-genre corpus which, in its present outline, will cover English religious prose from 1150 to the end of the eighteenth century.

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Corpus Tools

A freeware corpus analysis toolkit for concordancing and text analysis.

A software tool for corpus analysis and comparison.
It provides a web interface to the English USAS and CLAWS corpus annotation tools, and standard corpus linguistic methodologies such as frequency lists and concordances.
It also extends the keywords method to key grammatical categories and key semantic domains.

USAS Web Tagger
This page allows you to run text through the English USAS (UCREL Semantic Analysis System) semantic tagger (up to 100,000 words).

One of the most recent free software packages for the analysis of corpora, developed at Lancaster University.
One of its unique capacities is its data visualization tools.

Sketch Engine
A corpus manager and text analysis software developed by Lexical Computing Limited since 2003.
One of its unique features is its wordsketch feature, which visualizes a linguistic feature’s behaviour.

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Metaphor Identification and Analysis

Finding Metaphor in Discourse (Steen, 2007)
a methodological paper which addresses three distinct ways in which
metaphor can be found in discourse (Pragglejaz or MIP, conceptual cross-domain mapping, and mapping more direct metaphor)

Corpus Approaches to Critical Metaphor Analysis (2004)
Jonathan Charteris-Black documents some of the most commonly used metaphors in the Christian Bible and in Islam’s holy book,
the Qur’an.

Metaphor Led Discourse Analysis
Cameron, Lynne; Maslen, Robert; Todd, Zazie; Maule, John; Stratton, Peter and Stanley, Neil (2009). The discourse dynamics approach to metaphor and metaphor-led discourse analysis. Metaphor and Symbol, 24(2) pp. 63–89.

Metaphor Analysis (Cameron and Maslen, 2010)
the book explores links between theory and empirical investigation, exemplifies data analysis and discusses issues in research design and practice. Particular attention is paid to the processes of metaphor identification, categorisation and labelling, and to the use of corpus linguistic and other computer-assisted methods.

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Moral Evaluation and Representation of Ideology in Critical Discourse Analysis

Discourse and Practice: New Tools for Critical Analysis (van Leeuwen, 2008)
This book contains a description of methods for analyzing the representation of social action, social actors and the timings and spatial locations of social practices as well as methods for analyzing how the purposes, legitimations and moral evaluations of social practices can be, and are, constructed in discourse.

The Representation of Social Actors (van Leeuwen, 1996)
The questions van Leeuwen attempts to answer in this chapter include: what are the ways in which social actors can be represented in English discourse? Which choices does the English language give us for
referring to people? How are the relevant social actors represented in an instance of a particular kind of racist discourse—a discourse which represents
immigration in a way that is founded on fear—the fear of loss of livelihood and the fear of loss of cultural identity as a result of the ‘influx’ of
immigrants who are perceived as ‘other’, ‘different’ and ‘threatening’.


Moral Evaluation in Critical Discourse Analysis (van Leeuwen, 2018).
This paper will first discuss how critical discourse analysts might establish whether misrepresentations have taken place, and then how they might assess whether such misrepresentations legitimate and promote unacceptable forms of inequality, in other words, how discourses might be morally evaluated.89.

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