Archive for the ‘Diaphors’ Category

Measuring the meaning of words in contexts:…

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Measuring the meaning of words in contexts: An automated analysis of controversies about ‘Monarch butterflies,’ ‘Frankenfoods,’ and ‘stem cells’ Author(s): Loet Leydesdorff and Iina Hellsten Keywords: co-words, metaphors, diaphors, context, meaning


Co-words have been considered as carriers of meaning across different domains in studies of science, technology, and society. Words and co-words, however, obtain meaning in sentences, and sentences obtain meaning in their contexts of use. At the science/society interface, words can be expected to have different meanings: the codes of communication that provide meaning to words differ on the varying sides of the interface. Furthermore, meanings and interfaces may change over time. Given this structuring of meaning across interfaces and over time, we distinguish between metaphors and diaphors as reflexive mechanisms that facilitate the translation between contexts. Our empirical focus is on three recent scientific controversies: Monarch butterflies, Frankenfoods, and stem-cell therapies. This study explores new avenues that relate the study of co-word analysis in context with the sociological quest for the analysis and processing of meaning.

Excellent article on shifts of word meaning over time. Reports sufficient detail on methodology that interested readers will be able to duplicate or extend the research reported here.


  1. Annotated bibliography of research citing this paper.
  2. Design a study of the shifting meaning of a 2 or 3 terms. What texts would you select? (3-5 pages, with citations)
  3. Perform a study of shifting meaning of terms in library science. (Project)