Friday, 30 August 2013


Cohen is using the first person singular more than the second person plural.Can we really conclude that he is interested in himself and not the relationship? I decided to compare my results with the results from FROWN, which is a large(ish) corpus of North American English from the 70s and 80s, to see if his language usage is different from 'the norm'. No conclusions yet. Am I going to need statistics to interpret this? Or will it just be 'obvious'? Even when I was a graduate mathematician in my younger life, I did not 'get' statistics and now I want to avoid them at all costs. Pathetic!!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


Studentat60 is 62 today. A slightly depressing thought at first - I'll never be 61 again. Then I realised I'm still healthy and enjoying so many things. And learning. And researching. 62 is fine.

TSH did one of his special photo-montage home-made cards and this time the theme was Leonard Cohen in honour of my dissertation and the arena concert we're going to on Saturday. Lots of pics of LC himself plus a monkey and a violin. And lines from the songs. 'First we'll take Manhattan' (we're visiting New York soon), 'just drink it up' ( the line before that is something like 'is this poisoned?') and 'like a drunk in a midnight choir'. TSH is cooking his special sticky pork tonight.

Yesterday I looked at the Cohen lyrics and discovered that though there's lots of 'I' and 'you', there's hardly any 'we' or 'us'. The pronouns we use tell a lot about us. He is not a natural commitment person. Its the first discovery of my research.

We are starting to plan our wardrobes for the upcoming holiday. We will put our garment rails up at the weekend and make a serious start on coordination.

Friday, 23 August 2013


I've downloaded all the lyrics and gone through each one to make sure the repetitions are there in full. The software wont be able to analyse '....' for a chorus. Then I produced a file of all the lyrics for each album. Then I combined all the albums together. There's a spreadsheet listing each song with its word count. And when I produced the large file with all the lyrics, the word count balanced against the spreadsheet. It seemed like the first achievement. 26,038 words. My corpus.

Regular readers may have detected that I'm much more enthused by this research than I have been by any part of the course so far. That's because I enjoy working things out and analysing them for myself. I'm not really that interested in reading about what other people have done. But I know I'll have to, because this dissertation will have to slot into current academic linguistic thinking. So there will be plenty of boring bits to come.

For the moment I'm on a high.

Friday, 16 August 2013


Thanks for coming over and reading all about it.

We took a day off today and went to Ness gardens, which we think is one of the North West's greatest gardens. It's Liverpool University's Botanical gardens but it also takes itself seriously as a visitor attraction and has some beautiful herbaceous borders, as well as grand views over the River Dee into North Wales. We've never come across it before, but there's a small stone circle, constructed in the last few years, which mimics Stonehenge's alignment with the movement of the stars and the sun.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

No focus

Starting the dissertation is so exciting that I'm finding it difficult to focus. I have downloaded all the lyrics, eliminated the ones not written by Cohen and put them into directories. The next task is to look at how the repetitive parts of each lyric are dealt with and make it consistent throughout. Since this is stylistics, repetitions are important so they'll have to be in in full. Then I need to combine all the lyrics for each album into one plain text file, being careful not to omit anything. This is all essential but not brain work.

I have been given access to Wmatrix, a tool for tagging text with part of speech and semantic field (what the words mean). I am anxious to start playing with this but really this stage is about six months away. I'm like a kid in a sweet shop - I've already run 'Suzanne' through it!!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Getting started

I can think of nothing but the lyrics of Cohen songs, which is not helpful when you are trying to sleep. I've started the download, but its very tedious, as all 120 songs have to be downloaded separately and put into the directory for the correct album. Some of them he didn't write, so they are excluded, but I'm including the joint authorship ones. And there are several versions of some of them. This task is going to take some time, and I chose a topic where the data collection is relatively easy.

Yesterday was my annual family party, which went well, but in five consecutive years, in August, we have had unsettled weather, so we were indoors again. Today we have done most of the clearing up but we can eat left-over party food for a while, which is a treat!! TSH made brilliant Scotch eggs - eventually. The first batch weren't boiled properly, so had to be thrown away. So he can make pizza dough, scotch eggs and lots of other excellent things but he can't boil an egg!!

Thursday, 8 August 2013


Sent in my dissertation proposal, which has been accepted. I am going to research the portrayal of the first person narrator in the words of the songs of Leonard Cohen. I am so excited, as these songs are really intriguing poetry.

I'll  be using stylistic analysis as well as computer methods (corpus linguistics).

And we are going to see him perform in three weeks time.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Its as if I'm on a summer holiday

I know lots of other people are on summer holiday, but this year, we will be taking a long holiday in the Autumn. So I need to get the dissertation going. But its been very hot and I feel very listless - I'll give it another couple of days and then try again with the proposal. I need to get ahead so that I have enough material on my laptop to be able to do bits and pieces whilst we are away.

We went to the Tatton flower show and really enjoyed the floral marquee. But we were disappointed with the gardens - fewer entries than we have ever seen before. That must be an effect of the recession - especially for the local authorities who have no money for flower beds any more. But we particularly liked the garden based on the Sheffield steel industry.

I had a phone call this week from a call centre trying to get me to sign up to an OU course. In 8 years of association with the OU, this is the first time this has happened. I suspect they've put the fees up so high that they are short of students. This is a terrible national shame, that such a great institution is struggling for funding. I have had my quarrel with the OU - a major one, and I won't be signing up again - but it has given fantastic opportunity to so many people.