Orality vs. Literacy in Two of Arthur Miller’s Plays: A Corpus-Based Study

Waleed Saad Ali Abumandour, Mohamed Negm

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published in 1955) and Quentin in After the Fall in terms of Ong’s discursive orality and literacy features (Ong, 2013). Miller deployed a variety of linguistic features to reflect Willy’s uneducated background vis-à-vis Quentin’s literate-innate nature. The study employs up-to-date corpus methods in analyzing literary texts by which the researchers: firstly, constructed two corpora in XML format for both plays; secondly, marked up the character’s lines before compiling and parsing the corpora; and thirdly, extracted a subcorpus for each character’s speech in order to inspect, compare and contrast the linguistic aspects in question. The process renders 11,781 tokens for Willy’s speech (representing 38.2% of the play) and 16,976 tokens for Quentin’s (almost a half of the play’s narration). Results affirm existential orality/literacy linguistic phenomena in Miller’s protagonists as deemed by Ong, such as redundancy vs abundance. However, unlike Ong’s presumption, both characters interdiscursively share certain language items, such as additives. In this sense, findings attest epistemological and cultural reflections that profile the common man’s thoughts and concerns as Miller drew in his two literary works. His characters are realistically portrayed in a way that conforms with what has been previously argued by Negm (1986 & 1996) in his traditionally qualitative analysis of Miller’s works. In other words, the present study complements and supplements Negm’s previous studies in a quantitative method of analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)71-100
Number of pages30
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2022


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