Corpus linguistics is the study of a language as that language is expressed in its text corpus (plural corpora), its body of “real world” text. Corpus linguistics proposes that a reliable analysis of a language is more feasible with corpora collected in the field—the natural context (“realia”) of that language—with minimal experimental interference.

The text-corpus method uses the body of texts written in any natural language to derive the set of abstract rules which govern that language. Those results can be used to explore the relationships between that subject language and other languages which have undergone a similar analysis. The first such corpora were manually derived from source texts, but now that work is automated.
Wikipedia: Corpus linguistics (Jan. 2023)

Why is this of interest in the Second Amendment

It has been litigated at the Supreme Court three times now. The right of The People to keep and bear arms is an individual right. This is shown by dictionary meanings of “to bear” and “to keep”. It makes plain sense.

It is also a plain reading of the text.

The infringers want our right to self-defense to be restricted. Horribly restricted.

The easiest way to do that is to get rid of that nasty old pest, the Second Amendment.

How they do that is to attempt to make things “not arms”. They are failing. They attempt to make it not apply in this particular location. That is being challenged and they expect to lose.

They are also attempting to redefine what “The People” means to exclude most, or at least make the process of becoming a member of “The People” a matter for the state. In other words, the state wants “The People” to mean only law-abiding, responsible citizens, as defined by them.

There is another attack vector they are using. They want the Second Amendment to be a collective right, granted to the organized militia controlled by the state.

The path they are using is corpus linguistics. The gist of which is they take all the written works from that culture, as defined by location and time, and create a “normal” meaning.

Since the term “bear arms” appears primarily in the context of armies and militias, the state, and their amicus, claim that “to keep and bear arms” exists only in the context of the Militia.

Let’s take a modern version of this. The workword “Fuck”.

To fuck has a dictionary meaning of “have sex with someone” or “an act or instance of having sex.”

If we were to collect all the uses of the word “fuck” in the United States for over the last decade (or more) we would find a different “normal” meaning. That would be more of a word of contempt, “fuck you”. Or of annoyance, “Fuck it”. Or, as just a way of adding emphasis, “clean your fucking room.”

The Supreme Court isn’t stupid. They saw through this the last time it was brought forward, and many times before.

That never stops the infringers. When we are all dead and gone, if there is still a protected right to keep and bear arms, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be infringers out there making the same tired arguments.


Wikipedia: Corpus linguistics (Jan. 2023)

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By awa

5 thoughts on “Corpus Linguistics”
  1. F’n A!
    This is what happens when you start with what you want to do (“only people who support us should have guns”), get told “no, you can’t do that,” and keep flailing about trying to get their want anyway.
    Increasingly, some of them are saying they know they need to change the law to get their way. At least they’re a little more honest about what they want vs what they can have as things stand.

  2. I love how you went from sounding all scholarly, to using plain language like flipping a switch.

  3. I know this opinion is not broadly received, but…
    The right the 2nd Amendment protects is not “carrying arms.”
    There is a fundamental human right to self defense against threats, both personal and political. That right is exercised through the use of arms.
    The 2nd Amendment restricts the governments ability to infringe on that right.
    That is one thing the gun grabbers refuse to acknowledge. The Bill of Rights does not grant citizens any rights at all. In fact, if a government “grants” it, it is not a right.
    Their attempts to repeal the 2nd Amendment is nothing more than an attempt to provide the All-Powerful-State with more power to control the population. It is typical leftist. For whatever reason, they believe the collective is somehow better able to make decisions for the individual than the individual is.

    1. It is a language game. “Self-defense” could be construed to mean an individual right to protect the individual from individuals and groups, excluding the government. This is one of the reasons why self-defense is a “core right protected by the Second Amendment” but not the only right protected.
      They don’t believe that the collective is better at making decisions for you, they believe that they are better at making decisons for you.

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