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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Language analysis in the humanities

The use of the computer in the language-oriented humanities for exhaustive listing of detail (as in indices and concordances) is widespread and accepted as desirable. The implications of the computer for a “science” of the humanities—a science entailing gathering data for the construction and testing of models—are neither widely recognized nor accepted. This paper argues that the computer's major role as to language analysis in the humanities will be the establishing of such a science. Thus, for those areas of the humanities for which rigor and precision are necessary (e.g. analyzing literature or teaching a student to write a composition) the computer can be a critically important facilitator.

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