6.0382 ARTFL Newsletter (1/725)

Wed, 2 Dec 1992 21:54:43 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0382. Wednesday, 2 Dec 1992.

Date: Fri, 27 Nov 92 14:30:24 CST
From: Mark Olsen <mark@TIRA.UCHICAGO.EDU>
Subject: ARTFL Newsletter

The ARTFL Project Newsletter
Volume 8, Number 1 - Winter 1992-93

American and French Research on the
Treasury of the French Language

ARTFL is a cooperative project between:
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and
The University of Chicago

Particular Vices in Decent Expressions

Who uses this thing, anyway? And how?

Over the past years use of the ARTFL database has con-
tinued to increase steadily. From eight subscribing insti-
tutions in 1988, the ARTFL Consortium has grown to some
thirty-five institutions in the United States and Canada.
We are beginning to see its impact on both teaching and
scholarship. Teachers and researchers turn to it to trace
the introduction and development of new concepts and the
reworking of old ones over time; to study the crystalliza-
tion of ideas in key terms; to examine patterns and shifts
in language use; to look at the dynamics at work between
particular texts and more general usage; and, more simply,
to help students get a better sense of the language. The
following articles give some examples of the ways scholars
are putting the ARTFL database to work in their research and
in the classroom. The methods and "ideologies" range
widely; from using philological techniques to studying
intertextuality, from demonstrating the originality of a
writer to celebrating the death of the author.

I would like to thank the authors of these articles for
their contributions and invite other users to send to ARTFL
descriptions of how they have used the database in their
research and teaching. Understanding the ways in which peo-
ple use the database as well as the problems encountered in
working with it and ideas for different types of uses is
important for us in determining how the database should grow
and what new tools and access methods to develop.

Robert Morrissey, Director

November 25, 1992

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Table of Contents


Daniel Gordon, Governing Ideas: A Philological Approach
to the Age of Enlightenment
Keith Baker, Public Opinions and Revolutionary
Thoughts: Searching for Eighteenth-Century
Political Culture.
Geoffrey Wall, _Amboche, Masure, Nankins_: Coming to Terms
with _Madame Bovary_.


William Winder, _La puce a` l'oreille_: Enigmatexts at
the University of British Columbia
Michel Grimaud, Being Proper: ARTFL in Undergraduate
Teaching Wellesley College.
Jean-Claude Carron, The Nitty Gritty: ARTFL in the
Introduction to Literary Studies at UCLA


Governing Ideas: A Philological
Approach to the Age of Enlightenment

The ARTFL database has been a great resource for me in
my research on the moral and political vocabularies that
were invented in the Enlightenment. Works such as
Voltaire's _Dictionnaire philosophique_ and the
_Encyclope'die_ of Diderot and d'Alembert indicate that the
creation of a new moral and political lexicon was a central
concern of the philosophes. Rousseau wrote, "Every estate
and every profession has its own dictionary that defines its
particular vices in decent expressions." Rousseau and oth-
ers sought to replace inaccurate and deceitful language with
a new and enlightened terminology. Historical semantics is
thus a useful method for approaching the Enlightenment
because Enlightenment authors themselves viewed their role
in semantic terms. It is also a useful method for intellec-
tual history in general because it provides a concrete way
of referring both to intellectual innovation and to the com-
mon intellectual orientation of a large number of writers
over a long timespan.

The ARTFL database has been valuable to me as a tool
for tracing the usage of particular words that seem to have
been central in the preferred lexicon of the _philosophes_.
I have focused mainly on the language of politeness -- terms
such as _sociabilite'_, _civilite'_, and _politesse_ which
Rousseau used with great ambivalence but which most Enlight-
enment philosophers used with great conviction. The

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database makes it possible to test hunches and hypotheses
efficiently. For example, the _Encyclope'die_ was the first
French dictionary to include the word _sociabilite'_. Does
this mean that the term had been recently coined and that
the editors of the _Encyclope'die_ were consciously trying
to confer legitimacy on a new word or concept? How does the
definition of _sociabilite'_ in the _Encyclope'die_ resemble
or differ from previous usages? Is it possible that the
term _socie'te'_ from which _sociabilite'_ derives, a term
that has become so ubiquitious that we can scarcely imagine
its non-existence -- is it possible that this term was also
put into circulation by Enlightenment authors? (This last
question, which was suggested to me by Keith Baker, has
become the basis of collaborative research.) By searching
the ARTFL database for occurences of _sociabilite'_ prior
to the publication of the _Encyclope'die_ and searching the
entire database for occurences of _socie'te'_, I have gained
information that allows these broad questions to be
approached precisely.

Recently, I came across an interesting remark of Lucien
Febvre, who was an advocate of the study of words. The
value of tracing the evolution of words, he wrote, is that
"they reach us pregnant, one might say, with all the history
through which they have passed. They alone can enable us to
follow and measure...the transformations which took place in
those governing ideas which man is pleased to think of as
being immobile because their immobility seems to be a
guarantee of his security." The ARTFL database has allowed
me to confirm that a number of terms which we utter uncons-
ciously were consciously invented and put into circulation
in the Enlightenment. (Daniel Gordon's _The Idea of Socia-
bility in Pre-Revolutionary France_ will be published by
Princeton University Press in 1993.)

Daniel Gordon
Harvard University

Public Opinions and Revolutionary Thoughts: Searching for
Eighteenth-Century Political Culture.

Over the years, I have used ARTFL in a number of
research projects on the history of French political cul-
ture. My use of the database has been relatively straight-
forward and unsophisticated, but I have found it extremely
helpful. Generally speaking, I have searched the database
for occurrences of terms relevant to particular political
concepts. The searches have helped me to identify works
relevant to my project that I would not have anticipated, as
well as making it easier to find key occurrences of terms in
works that were obviously relevant. They have demonstrated
shifts in the frequency of the uses of important terms in
the database over relatively long periods of time. They

November 25, 1992

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have also suggested evidence for changing uses of these
terms within differing discursive configurations.

One of the earliest uses I made of the database was for
a study of the idea of "public opinion" in eighteenth-
century France, first published in 1987 and subsequently
reprinted in my work, _Inventing the French Revolution_
(Cambridge, 1990). At that time, it was not possible -- as
it now would be -- to search the database for co-occurrences
of the terms _opinion_ and _publique_. Instead, we had to
search for occurrences of _opinion_ more generally, and then
find out which of these occurrences actually combined _opin-
ion_ with _publique_. The procedure was somewhat cumber-
some, but it was enormously useful in identifying
occurrences of _opinion publique_ in the database for
further analysis, in suggesting a tentative chronology for
the usage of the term in eighteenth-century France, and in
illustrating the traditional associations of _opinion_ with
uncertainty, instability, and disorder -- associations that
were rapidly changed when mere _opinion_ was transformed (as
it was during the third quarter of the eighteenth-century)
into the rational authority of of _opinion publique_, the
new tribunal to which all political actors were compelled to

Another project in which I had valuable recourse to
ARTFL was a study of the idea of "revolution" in prerevolu-
tionary France, first published in 1988 and also reprinted
in _Inventing the French Revolution_. Searching the database
for _re'volution_ produced an enormous amount of informa-
tion. It revealed important occurrences in works I would
not otherwise have investigated, as well as ensuring that I
did not miss occurrences in works I already knew to be cru-
cial (Mably's _Observations sur l'histoire de France_, for
example). It also provided the basis for the following
table, adapted from _Inventing the Revolution_, p. 346:

Frequency of occurrences of _re'volution(s)_
in the ARTFL database (1986)

Date Number of Number of words Frequency per
occurrences in corpus 1,000 words

1600-99 152 18,269,513 .0083
1700-99 2,526 37,499,880 .0673

1700-50 392 12,805,037 .0306
1751-70 782 10,879,911 .0718
1771-89 504 10,651,996 .0473
1789-99 848 3,162,936 .2681

Of course, as I pointed out in presenting the table, the
ARTFL database is not, in any strict statistical sense, a

November 25, 1992

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representative sample of French works published during the
seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries. One cannot therefore
extrapolate directly from the frequency of the term
_re'volution_ in the database to its popularity in French
discourse as a whole. Nonetheless, the increase of
occurrences of the term within the database, between the
seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries, is really quite
striking. It does suggest, along with other evidence, that
"revolution" was becoming an increasingly important category
of historical understanding in France well before the events
that were so quickly apprehended in 1789 as "The French
Revolution." I also tried in my study to identify the com-
peting meanings of _re'volution_ in prerevolutionary politi-
cal discourse and to show how the French Revolution was
invented as a series of improvisations upon them. More
recently, Daniel Gordon and I have been collaborating on
research in the idea of society in the French Enlightenment.

I have learned much from ARTFL and expect to be able to
learn much more in the future. Allow me to conclude by
thanking the ARTFL staff for their generous help over the
years, and to acknowledge the particular assistance of Kent
Wright and Matthew Levinger in the searches they have so
readily carried out for me.

Keith Baker
Stanford University

_Amboche, Masure, Nankins_: Coming to
Terms with _Madame Bovary_.

After four years' work, I have just finished a new
translation of Flaubert's _Madame Bovary_. As well as the
usual array of translator's tools--the various dictionaries,
the thesaurus and the encyclopedia, I have been using ARTFL.

It has helped me in three ways.

First of all, it meant that I could easily generate a
voluminous file of quotations systematically, illustrating
the semantic field of key words in Flaubert's text. For
example, I searched the fiction and the correspondance for
instances of "nerfs" and "nerveux": an obvious case of a
word which carries a special thematic charge for Flaubert.
There were less obvious instances too, such as "abandonner,"
"langueur," and "songer." All of these were used quite dis-
tinctively. ARTFL supplemented and refined my intuitive
sense of their meaning, helped me to make confident and con-
sistent decisions in my translation of recurrent words.

Second, there were other kinds of words, such as
"amboche," "masure" and "nankins." They raised different
problems: of connotation, of cultural history. The

November 25, 1992

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dictionaries and the encyclopedias didn't give enough exam-
ples of their use to answer the questions I was asking.
ARTFL could do it, rapidly and exactly.

Third, when writing my introduction I wanted to say
something about (for example) Flaubert's opinions on hys-
teria. ARTFL confirmed my intuition that the word "hys-
teria" did not occur in the text of _Madame Bovary_. And it
revealed, simultaneously, how much thought Flaubert had
given to the question of hysteria, how informed he was con-
cerning the emergent domain of psychopathology.

I think we are just learning how to use ARTFL as an
instrument of research. Our intellectual formation in the
pre-electronic era means that we still do not, in general,
try to follow up any of those criticial intuitions that
would once have required weeks of drudgery to substantiate.
We are learning, belatedly, to ask the right questions.
(Geoffrey Wall's translation of _Madame Bovary_ was pub-
lished by Penguin Books in September, 1992.)

Geoffrey Wall
University of York


_La puce a` l'oreille_: Enigmatexts at
the University of British Columbia

French 500 is a methodology and bibliography course
offered to beginning masters and doctoral candidates at
UBC's French Department. Much of the course is devoted to
the traditional questions, procedures, and tools of humani-
ties graduate work, i.e. thesis format and goals, the
library and its printed reference materials, and terminolog-
ical and methodological conventions for linguistic and
literary studies. Students are also presented a variety of
electronic research tools: electronic mail, electronic dis-
cussion lists, optical scanners, word processors, biblio-
graphical databases, terminological databases, text analysis
software, grammar correction software, etc.

Among these electronic tools, the ARTFL database is
perhaps the most important for French studies. Accordingly,
students are asked to complete a number of practical exer-
cises in order to gain a more thorough understanding of its
uses and limits. Some examples of exercises are:

Use ARTFL to compare the value of "e^tre paru" and "avoir
paru" in the sense of "published": is there any difference
in meaning?

November 25, 1992

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Study the evolution of the fixed expression "puce a`
l'oreille": how is it used over the centuries and what is
its syntactic distribution?

Compare the role of "vin" and "champagne" in Maupassant and
Zola. What are the connotations of these words, and what
role do they have in the text?

Construct a thematic field for Flaubert's "Un coeur simple";
does this field appear in other works?

Finally, perhaps the most ambitious exercise of the
course consists in finding the source of unidentified quota-
tions of varying length, called "enigmatexts". Students are
asked to find the exact edition that the quotation was taken
from, using whatever means possible. ARTFL is one particu-
larly effective tool for this exercise, but not the only
one, and it is often instructive to compare the different
approaches to the problem. For example, faced with the unti-
tled passage "Par la fene^tre losangique d'une gui^rite de
gardien, je suivais le chapeau panama dans les alle'es du
Luxembourg", one student judiciously looked in the _TLF_
under "losangique" and found that passage as an attestation.
Finding this double path to the text served as an excellent
illustration of the circulation of information between
reference texts and primary sources: such explorations
reveal the dictionary-like dimension of textual databases,
and the textual dimension of the dictionary.

Some enigmatexts cannot be found with ARTFL, either
because the texts are not part of the database or because
the relevant search is not possible. For instance, any pas-
sage that is composed exclusively of high frequency words,
such as grammatical words ("de", "par", "le", etc.), is dif-
ficult if not impossible to find in ARTFL. Indeed ARTFL gen-
erally suffers from a lack of statistical and grammatical
treatment of its texts -- for example, one cannot use it to
study in any direct way the syntax of determiners or the
statistical distribution of a theme in a text. However,
these limitations are themselves pedagogically valuable in
that they serve as a natural transition to the more complex
questions of automatic treatment of text, and to the use of
more powerful software for linguistic and literary study:
automatic lemmatizers, concordances, linguistic databases,

In the final stages of the course, students create a
miniature database from Flaubert`s _Un Coeur Simple_. They
draw up extensive lists of expressions and phrases from the
novella and then search the whole database for significant
parallels. This very practical study of intertextuality
helps students to understand that beyond the simple biblio-
graphical attribution, the true source of the language,
style, and meaning of texts is found dispersed in the whole

November 25, 1992

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of literature itself -- in a very real sense Flaubert did
not write "Un coeur simple", rather French literature did.
ARTFL is perhaps the only reference tool that gives direct
access to that elusive, polycephalic author, French literary

Bill Winder
University of British Columbia

Being Proper: ARTFL in Undergraduate
Teaching Wellesley College.

Students in an undergraduate seminar on "Politeness and
Proper Names" have used the ARTFL database for their papers.
One student studied the use of "tu" and "vous" in Balzac's
_Euge'nie Grandet_, noting for example Grandet's switch from
"tu" to "vous" when he felt emotionally distanced from his
wife or from Euge'nie. Another student looked at the use of
titles of address in Balzac's _Pe`re Goriot_, examining in
particular the use of "Mademoiselle" and "Madame" and, for
instance, the logic of variations between "Victorine,"
"Mademoiselle Taillefer," and "Mademoiselle Victorine."

One student looked at Simenon's _Les vacances de
Maigret_, also studying the rare cases of "tutoiement" and
also the use of the article with a given name as in "la
Popine" vs. "Popine."

Points of convergence between Simenon and Balzac were
easy to investigate thanks to the ease of ARTFL searches: we
checked the now odd use of "Mme + Patronym" as in "Mme
Maigret" said by husband to wife and found it, for instance,
in Balzac's _Euge'nie Grandet_.

A study of naming in Jules Verne's _Ile myste'rieuse_
was particularly interesting in several ways. We looked at
the use of "Monsieur" with a given name for men [cf. Balzac
above for women] as in "Monsieur Cyrus" vs. "Monsieur
Smith." We also discussed the usual use of the full name by
the narrator -- "Cyrus Smith," a way of naming also used by
Victor Hugo in _Les Miserables_ where Hugo always says "Jean
Valjean" (never "Jean" or "Valjean") In addition, KWIC lists
of names enabled us to study the order of mention of names
of the members of that small, strongly hierarchical social

Many of the points discussed by the students were first
discussed in my 1989 article in _Le francais moderne_ ("Les
appellatifs dans le discours"). But, at the time, I did not
have access to the ARTFL database. Particularly in the last
case mentioned -- that of the order of mention of characters
-- having access to complete lists enabled the student who
studied the issue to significantly refine my initial

November 25, 1992

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Michel Grimaud
Wellesley College

The Nitty Gritty: ARTFL in the Introduction
to Literary Studies at UCLA.

The introductory course in literary studies, French
201: Literary Research and Composition, which is required
for all graduate students in the French Department at UCLA,
includes some information concerning the role and use of
computers in their graduate work. A certain number of these
uses begin as soon as the students realize that the catalo-
gue of the University's principal library is computerized,
as well as some ten years of the MLA Bibliography.

As far as ARTFL is concerned, the first "theoretical"
introduction is done in class: a description of the holdings
on the database, ways of accessing it (by modem, MOPS, or
"direct" connection), available resources (limiting the
corpus to areas of interest, breadths and limits of
searches, combinations of successive searches, etc.), possi-
ble uses (statistical, thematic, historical (first use of a
word), linguistic, phonetics and rhyme schemes, etc).

For those who have never used a computer before, there
is also the need to overcome intimidation and the numerous
unexpected difficulties raised by the initial encounter with
computer technology. After the first overview, the class
meets in a room equipped with a terminal that provides
access to UCLA's electronic mail and Bitnet via modem and
cable. (The Department does not yet have direct access to
Chicago.) The demonstration consists in part of an intro-
duction to communication programs compatible with our elec-
tronic service with modem access to Chicago. The use of the
database then happens "live", via modem, as does the stu-
dents' training in the use of Philologic. This is in fact
the only way for the class to see the program work and to
follow the advances, the experiments or the errors in the
research itself.

For their private research, the students are encouraged
to use MOPS which makes use of electronic mail.

Once these steps have been accomplished, access to
ARTFL is left relatively open: only the students who want to
use it or whose written course work might require it are
truly encouraged to use ARTFL for this introductory class.
French 201 offers essentially a series of introductions to
the different resources available to students for their
short term and long term research. The goal is mostly to
make them conscious that these resources exist, with the

November 25, 1992

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hope that they will know how to use them when the time

For this first course, the numerous practical, adminis-
trative and theoretical steps seem to be enough to wear out
the curiosity and the patience of most of the students who
have never before used a computer. It is important to bear
in mind that this first step, though still not very
advanced, is crucial, and that we must not hurry things too

Jean-Claude Carron

ARTFL at the MLA

Mark Olsen, Assistant Director of ARTFL, will be at the
Modern Language Association. He will be acting as a respon-
dant for two sessions entitled "Signs, Symbols, Discourses:
A New Direction for Computer-Aided Literature Studies". The
sessions will be offered on Tuesday, December 29, (1:45-
3:00, Morgan Suite A&B, New York Hilton) and Wednesday,
December 30, (3:30-4:45, Riverside Ballroom, Sheraton New

Mark will be happy to give ARTFL demonstrations by
appointment. Anyone interested in an ARTFL demonstration
should contact Mark to make an appointment either at the
conference or by e-mail to:
or by phone at: 312-702-8687.

Morphological Analysis of the ARTFL database

We are pleased to announce that ARTFL now supports lim-
ited use of the INFL Morphological Analyzer under an agree-
ment with its developers at the Xerox Palo Alto Research
Center (PARC). The INFL Analyzer is a context-free system
which identifies many aspects of every word in a sentence,
including the tense, gender, part of speech, and other data.
The current implementation, which is not part of the Philo-
Logic access program, permits the user to search for a word
or pattern in a single text, generating a full morphological
analysis for every sentence in which the target word is
found. The INFL Analyzer will be discussed in further
detail in the Spring 1993 _Newsletter_. Please contact
ARTFL for further information concerning the use of INFL.

Current Subscriber List for ARTFL

We are pleased to announce that as of November, 1992,

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thirty-five institutions are currently active participants
in ARTFL. These institutions are:

Bryn Mawr College
Carleton University
City University of New York
Columbia University
Cornell University
Duke University
Emory University
Gettysburg College
Harvard University
Johns Hopkins University
Kent State University
Louisiana State University
Memorial University
New York University
Princeton University
Rutgers University
Stanford University
State University of New York - Binghampton
State University of New York - Buffalo
Swarthmore College
Universite' de Montre'al
Universite' du Que'bec a` Montre'al
University of British Columbia
University of California - Los Angeles
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign
University of Michigan
University of Ottawa
University of Rochester
University of South Carolina
University of Southern California
University of Virginia
University of Waterloo
Vassar College
Wellesley College
Yeshiva University

ARTFL Project
Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
1050 East 59th Street
University of Chicago
Chicago, IL 60637

(312) 702-8488

November 25, 1992