Machines in the media: semantic change in the lexical field of mechanization in 19th-century British newspapers
Published in Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Digital Humanities (NLP4DH), 2022
The industrialization process associated with the so-called Industrial Revolution in 19thcentury Great Britain was a time of profound changes, including in the English lexicon. An important yet understudied phenomenon is the semantic shift in the lexicon of mechanisation. In this paper we present the first large-scale analysis of terms related to mechanization over the course of the 19th century in English. We draw on a corpus of historical British newspapers comprising 4.6 billion tokens and train historical word embedding models. We test existing semantic change detection techniques and analyse the results in light of previous historical linguistic scholarship.