I recently had a chance to demo some of the tools bundled with Sketch Engine. One cool feature it offers is the ability to create a custom corpus by scraping public domain texts off the web using to user-defined keywords. I created a small corpus of French texts dealing with Jean Bodin’s work on sovereignty and then generated an six-word n-gram and a keyword analysis. The keyword analysis is a particularly interesting feature of Sketch Engine that compares the frequency of terms in your corpus with their frequency in a reference corpus. So keyword ranking could be interpreted as a measure of the ‘salience’ of certain concepts within a corpus.
Here is a screenshot of the n-gram I generated:
Assuming that the texts Sketch Engine collated are either primary source or scholarly, this n-gram shows that while Bodin is quite concerned with identifying the location of sovereignty, the concepts of the republic and the government feature much more prominently than the person of the king.
Here is a screenshot of the keyword analysis I generated:
This multi-word keyword analysis really just demonstrates that Bodin’s approach to constitutional theory is legalistic, and that an analyst of Bodin’s work needs to figure out the conceptual relationship between sovereignty and absolutism.