"Pale as death" or "pâle comme la mort" : Frozen similes used as literary clichés

11/05/2015 ∙ by Suzanne Mpouli, et al. ∙ 0

The present study is focused on the automatic identification and description of frozen similes in British and French novels written between the 19 th century and the beginning of the 20 th century. Two main patterns of frozen similes were considered: adjectival ground + simile marker + nominal vehicle (e.g. happy as a lark) and eventuality + simile marker + nominal vehicle (e.g. sleep like a top). All potential similes and their components were first extracted using a rule-based algorithm. Then, frozen similes were identified based on reference lists of existing similes and semantic distance between the tenor and the vehicle. The results obtained tend to confirm the fact that frozen similes are not used haphazardly in literary texts. In addition, contrary to how they are often presented, frozen similes often go beyond the ground or the eventuality and the vehicle to also include the tenor.



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