Melvyn Bragg on the way science has influenced the english language.
Do You Know What You Are Saying?
Melvyn Bragg explores the latest revelations that computing and science are bringing to the way we use our language: using the latest computer-assisted research he discovers hitherto unrealised patterns in the way we use our language, both literary and spoken.
Some forty years ago great hopes were raised in the literary community that the sort of routine mechanical analysis of literary texts (e.g. word counts and frequency of use of particular terms) that the advent of the computer and its ability to crunch large amounts of detail quickly and accurately could deliver were going to revolutionise study. Today, there's a certain degree of scepticism. Some of the claims - like the computer-aided study that suggested that Sylvia Plath's verse foreshadowed her suicide - have been greeted with ridicule in some quarters. Yet slowly but surely as the software becomes more sophisticated, major advances are being made.
For 'Inside English', Melvyn goes inside the differences between spoken and written English to find out the way science is being roped in to analyse and then potentially change the way we use it.