DFG Linguistic Subproject


Framing Corruption

Not only with regard to Serbian and Croatian, but in general, no studies have dealt with either the conceptual history of informality or corruption, or with the reconstruction of their historical semantics. However, in order to identify the difficulties of fighting corruption, it is important to examine what the corresponding societies understand or have understood by the concept of corruption. The linguistic project — in close cooperation with the other projects — aims to provide new information on this topic.

For the linguistic project, a qualitative lexical-semantic analysis of the thematic vocabulary for the frame family INFORMALITY is to be created—the single frame ‘corruption’ should be considered as part of the frame family. The goal is to look for linguistic markers that reflect shifts in the boundary between legitimate and non-legitimate practices. The focus is on the Serbian, Croatian, and Yugoslav press from 1919 to the present day.

The key questions in relation to the relevant vocabulary fields are:

  1. How does the word usage differ in the Croatian and Serbian press?
  2. How did public usage differ in the first and second Yugoslavia and finally from 1991 to today?
  3. Can continuities and breaks be traced in public usage? How did censorship work in socialist Yugoslavia? Does the phase of liberalization stand out particularly between 1963 and 1972?

A first look at historical dictionaries and corpora shows that the lexeme korupcija is a relatively recent borrowing and that other lexemes have been used to refer to the relevant phenomena. The question arises as to whether before the emergence of korupcija other lexemes existed that functioned similarly to it or whether the most recent notion of corruption even created a new discursive phenomenon, namely the delegitimation of people, institutions, or even entire societies.

In order to include the conceptual vagueness and dynamics of the concept of corruption and informality, it is necessary to break away from the orientation towards individual terms such as korupcija and to focus on adjacent lexemes and semantic fields. Therefore, reference should be made to the dynamic concept of frames or knowledge frames. The conceptual openness of the understanding of CORRUPTION and INFORMALITY is modeled by the lexemes identified from the available evidence. To identify the lexemes, a FrameNet-based annotation method will be used.

The historical data material is represented by news, reports, and comments from the Serbian and Croatian press. For the Serbian language, the newspaper ‘Politika’ will be fully evaluated from 1919 onwards. For Croatian, the newspapers ‘Obzor’ (1920-1941) and ‘Jutarnji list’ 1919-1941 will be completely analyzed for the First Yugoslavia and for the post-war period, ‘Večernji list’ (from 1959) and ‘Slobodna Dalmacija’ (from 1943).

However, before the examination of the historical source material, lexicographic portraits are to be created for the lexemes within the frame family of INFORMALITY. Additionally, frequency data from the web corpora available via SketchEngine (hrWaC v2.2. and srWaC v1.2.) should be integrated into the description of modern language usage.

Jovana Jović (HA 2659/11-1)

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