Open Access

TV series as disseminators of emerging vocabulary: Non-codified expressions in the TV Corpus


This study presents a method for identifying words that appear in corpus data earlier than their first date of attestation in dictionaries. We demonstrate the application of this method based on a large diachronic corpus, the TV Corpus, and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Combining automatic extraction of candidate terms from the TV Corpus with comprehensive manual analysis and verification, the method identifies 32 words that were used in TV series before their first attestation in the OED. We present a detailed discussion of these words, analysing their distribution across decades and genres of the TV Corpus, their origins, semantic domains and word-formation processes. We also present extracts with their first uses in the TV Corpus and analyse how the words were presented to the large and anonymous mass audience. Our study shows that the method we present is suitable for identifying early attestations of words in large corpora, even though in the case of the TV Corpus, a great deal of manual analysis and verification is needed. In addition, we argue that TV series and other types of fictional texts are an important resource for studying the coinage and spread of terms, due to their function and the fact that they address a mass audience.