‘We work hard here’: Exploring Person and Place Deixis in a Corpus of Historical Migrant Letters

Emma Moreton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This chapter uses qualitative and corpus-based approaches to explore the letters of two sisters, Annie and Julia Lough, who migrated from Ireland to America in the late nineteenth century. First, a close qualitative reading of the letters is carried out to identify topics in the discourse. The Interesting Items Visualisation Tool (Culy, 2016) is then used to identify statistically significant words and semantic domains in one topic, ‘Ireland and America’, when compared with all other topics combined. Finally, the corpus tool Sketch Engine (Kilgarriff and Kosem, 2012) is used to examine some of the linguistic findings in context, focusing in particular on the use of person deixis (the pronoun we) and place deixis (the adverbs here and there). The chapter concludes by considering what these linguistic features might reveal about how the Lough sisters positioned themselves in relation to the recipient of the letter in terms of physical and social distance and proximity and how they self-identified – as Irish migrants and/or American citizens.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRethinking Language, Text and Context
Subtitle of host publicationInterdisciplinary Research in Stylistics in Honour of Michael Toolan
EditorsRuth Page, Beatrix Busse, Nina Nørgaard
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781351183222
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2019

Publication series

NameRethinking Language, Text and Context


  • stylistics
  • deixis
  • corpus linguistics
  • migrant letters


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