Phenomenological Reviews

Journal | Volume | Article

Materials for a lexicographic analysis of Giovanni Piana's Complete works

Valentino Piana(HES-SO Valais-Wallis)

pp. 329-335

1 | Overview

1With this paper, we release the full list of all words used in Giovanni Piana’s Opere Complete, ordered by frequency and tagged by grammatical categories.

2This list allows readers to reconstruct the frequency with which concepts were used by Piana, to recognize different synonymous terms, and to identify clusters of concepts related to specific areas of interest. An advanced search of the PDFs would suffice for the first goal (with the additional benefit of highlighting the occurrences, i.e. the sentences in which the words appear) but not for the second (in the sense that it would take much too long for such a preliminary enquiry).

3Moreover, the list gives a comprehensive view, across all books, of authors and concepts. For instance, one can identify the relative frequency of the scholars he quoted, such as ‘Husserl’ and ‘Heidegger’. One may explore the relative importance, across the whole body of his philosophical production, of concepts related to phenomenology, visual arts, music, and further fields one may not expect to be covered. A single quote may sometimes be all what is needed to define Piana’s position on a subject, but the total absence of reference is indicative.

4In addition to single words (more finely categorized in nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and other grammatical categories), multiple words occurring together are covered (which in the jargon of lexicography are known as n-grams).

5In order to identify concepts, nouns and verbs that somehow connote Piana’s ‘specialized’ language, we release the top 30 000+ word and 87 000+ n-grams by keyness score, which reproduces how Piana deviates from the common use (frequency) of the word in standard Italian.

6In addition to these full documents,1 I provide, in a single text-only file,2 the full corpus of over 1 650 000 words for your further analyses.

2 | The corpus

7The analysis processed all the 29 volumes of the Opere complete, from their PDFs (all available at Giovanni Piana’s Archive at

8Produced by Piana himself, the volumes in the Opere complete thematically organize, present, and collate 61 PDFs with separate articles and books. In three cases, the musical examples, which—with the multimedia capability of this digital format—can be heard, were eliminated for the printed edition, with some changes in the text. For this only reason, one book based on a university course that extensively used audio files integrated in the PDF was not included in the Opere complete.

9This book—Canto del merlo—has been included, however, in the present analysis, which only takes the text into account.3 In total, the number of pages published by Piana and covered by the current analysis is 6 648.4

10Since we are interested not only in the words but in the intention of an author, we did not include Piana’s translations of other authors, such as Husserl’s Logische Untersuchungen.

11The broad scope of the analysis mitigates the issue of a very selective view of his works: students may particularly well remember the course they attended but may have lost of sight what was published afterwards; scholars having loved a certain book may not be aware of other publications—and their relative material importance. People accessing physical public libraries are limited by their purchase decisions.

12That is exacerbated for the non-Italian speaking readers because, at the moment, only few papers have been translated. Indeed, lexicographic analysis is intended to facilitate future translations.5

3 | The method

13I imported the volumes into a specialized online service ( and carried out pretty standard operations of ‘word listing’ and ‘key word extraction’.

14I reported the results in a spreadsheet, supervised the ranking and the organization of the materials. I separated the comparative analysis from the inner analysis of the sole corpus. In the latter, the columns ‘words’ and ‘nouns’ are unedited, to leave there any typos or hyphenation issue, since one of its possible uses is exactly to detect them, in view of a future new edition. Out of more than 1.5 million words, at low frequencies there is obviously such a phenomenon.

15Instead, a manual identification of typos and misallocation to the category has been carried out for the other columns (verbs, etc.). Inevitably, some subjective judgements had to be carried out and some inaccuracies do persist.

16Because of issues with grammatical attribution, in order to count occurrences it is better to use the ‘words’ column, while the categories column is useful for reasoning about areas of interest.7 The ranking (the relative ordering based on ‘larger than’ relations) remains the same in both columns.

17The comparative exercise broadly speaking identifies the single words and the sequence of words that Piana used more frequently than a reference corpus of more than 16 billions items of Italian language (called itTenTen16 – Italian Web 2016)8 The ‘score’ column reports the value of the keyness formula: the ratio between the relative frequency of the item in the Opere complete and its relative frequency in the reference corpus, modified by a smoothing parameter, for which we used the default value.9

4 | The outcome

18Giovanni Piana used 53 911 different words in composing its works, for a total of 1 692 773 words" (cf. Lexicon). He used 20 163 different nouns, the most frequent of which are: ‘modo’, ‘senso’, ‘problema’, ‘cosa’, ‘punto’, ‘suono’.

19In the name column, ‘esperienza’ has more occurrences (1 786) than ‘metafisica’ (7). ‘Pensiero’ (1 213) more than ‘immaginazione’ (1 080); ‘percezione’ (967) more than ‘ricordo’ (506)—just to compare the titles of the four parts of his Elements for a Doctrine of Experience.

20The most mentioned name is ‘Husserl’ (1 415), which even expands to 1 579 in the ‘words’ column. There, ‘Heidegger’ is much lower (219). Before him: ‘Schopenhauer’ (1 023), ‘Wittgenstein’ (554), ‘Kant’ (433), ‘Hume’ (401), ‘Mondrian’ (304), ‘Bachelard’ (285). Great attention is devoted to ‘Aristosseno’ (215), ‘Leibniz’ (175), ‘Platone’ (166), ‘Rameau’ (164), ‘Adorno’ (163), ‘Frege’ (155), ‘Lukácz’ (152), ‘Schönberg’ (152) and ‘Paci’ (150).

21Among the 5 104 verbs Piana used, the most frequently used are: ‘potere’ (14 583), ‘dovere’ (5 530), ‘fare’ (5 164), ‘dire’ (4 294), ‘considerare’ (2 173), ‘sembrare’ (2 045), ‘volere’ (1 853), ‘vedere’ (1 563), ‘rappresentare’ (1 377), ‘mostrare’ (1 180). ‘Percepire’ (420) and ‘udire’ (394) are somewhat lower.

22Among the 9 330 adjectives, ‘musicale’ (2 120) prevails on ‘filosofico’ (1 231); ‘fenomenologico’ (1 104) on ‘ermeneutico’ (7). ‘Trascendentale’ (215) on ‘immanente’ (67).

23When compared to standard Italian, Piana talks about Husserl some 250 times more frequently (cf. Distinctive Lexicon). This proportion is around 100 or more for ‘Schopenhauer’, ‘fenomenologico’, ‘Mondrian’, ‘Bachelard’, ‘Aristosseno’, ‘Hume’, ‘Wittgenstein’. Around 50 times are ‘pitagorico’, ‘Tractatus’, ‘immaginative’, ‘percettive’, ‘proposizioni’, ‘temporalità’, ‘Hindemith’.

24In n-grams, a disproportionately intense use of expressions is for, e.g. ‘riduzione fenomenologica’, ‘situazione percettiva’, ‘ricerca fenomenologica’, ‘proposizioni elementari’, ‘campo percettivo’, ‘forza affettiva’, ‘forma temporale’, ‘flusso sonoro’.

25We invite the reader to dive into the two spreadsheet (GPiana-lexicon.xls which contains the analysis of absolute occurrence of single words, in general and by grammatical tag, as well as the n-grams; GPiana-distinctive lexicon.xlsx which contains the differential utilization of single words and 2-grams between the Opere complete and the standard Italian) for a personal inquiry.

26Looking for fil rouges and interesting comparisons is, however, well beyond the scope of this paper.10 I simply wanted to exhibit the width of a monumental philosophical work (cf. Complete Works).


  • 1 These files are called respectively: GPiana-lexicon.xls and GPiana-distinctive lexicon.xlsx
  • 2 The simple text file is called, referring to the encoding, as GPiana-ordered-Unicode.txt.
  • 3 Indeed, this book was the first to be given a cover page and be printed as possible enhancement of the PDFs of the Archive. I brought it to my father in the April 2012. After the death of my mother on the 29th February, my father was desperate and annihilated. I handled this book to him as part of the attempt to talk about the future in a moment where he saw none. Years earlier, he had been repossessing all copyrights from the publisher and released all his works in Internet. But the possibility of on-demand printing service, which I had successfully tested with my main book, produced leading an international cooperation, on ‘Innovative economic policies for climate change mitigation’, was very exciting, since he could control the full process in all details, without relying on traditional publisher interventions that could have delayed or inserted economic and audience requests. I had accompanied the physical copy with an Excel file with a correspondence between all 61 PDF and keywords (Husserl, Wittgenstein, etc.), based on their titles, in order to outline a possible comprehensive publication of his works. He completely reformulated the titles and the structure of the books, based on the inner logics and the value for the reader of a certain sequence, and by 2013 he had completed the large part of this enterprise, for which he had chosen all cover pages and materially produced everything there. In particular he had conceived and written the book on my mother ‘Shreds of life’, which he wanted to insert between the other Volumes.
  • 4 In each volume, the final pages containing the list of all books of the GPCW, the chronological order of the single publications, the translations, and the 39 titles of music compositions have been deleted. They are, however, counted in the total pages, for which we refer to the printed number on the text.
  • 5 If you are interested into a certain topic, but can’t read Italian, you may look at the translation of the present materials for a lexicographic analysis, check whether your topics (in several of its possible related terms) is present in Piana’s work. Once you have an idea of the importance for you of knowing Piana’s thought, please contact the Piana’s Archive at for verifying which texts you need and who could translate them, possibly but not necessarily in triangulation with a publisher.
  • 6 For an introduction, see Thomas (2016).
  • 7 For a more linguistic-oriented analysis we include lemmas and lempos.
  • 8 Downloaded by SpiderLing from May to August 2016. Cleaned, deduplicated, tagged by TreeTagger pipeline v2 with word sketches and term grammar created by Ludovica Lanini.
  • 9 See for details:
  • 10 For the 700+ papers that currently quote Giovanni Piana, we refer you to


Piana Giovanni (1999-2007) Il canto del merlo. Milano, Università degli Studi di Milano.

Piana Giovanni (2005) Alle origini della teoria della tonalità. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Album per la teoria della musica greca. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Barlumi per una filosofia della musica. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Commenti a Hume. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Commenti a Wittgenstein. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Conversazioni sulla Crisi di Husserl. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Elementi di una dottrina dell'esperienza: saggio di filosofia fenomenologica, 3rd edn.. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Fenomenologia delle sintesi passive. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Fenomenologia, esistenzialismo, marxismo. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Filosofia della musica, 2nd edn.. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Frammenti epistemologici. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) I problemi della fenomenologia (revisione Vincenzo Costa). Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Immagini per Schopenhauer. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Interpretazione del "Mondo come volontà e rappresentazione" di Schopenhauer. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Interpretazione del "Tractatus" di Wittgenstein. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Intervallo e cromatismo nella teoria della musica. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Introduzione alla filosofia. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) La notte dei lampi: quattro saggi di filosofia dell'immaginazione, 2nd edn.. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Le regole dell'immaginazione, 2nd edn.. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Mondrian e la musica. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Numero e figura: Idee per una epistemologia della ripetizione, 2nd edn.. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Problemi di estetica e teoria musicale. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Saggi di filosofia della musica. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Saggi su Husserl e la fenomenologia. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Stralci di vita. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Strutturalismo fenomenologico e psicologia della forma. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Piana Giovanni (2013) Teoria del sogno e dramma musicale. Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press.

Thomas James (2016) Discovering English with Sketch: a corpus-based approach to language exploration, 2nd edn.. Brno, Versatile.

Publication details

Published in:

Caminada Emanuele, Summa Michela (2020) Giovanni Piana. Phenomenological Reviews Special Issue 1.

Pages: 329-335

DOI: 10.19079/PR.s1.21

Full citation:

Piana Valentino (2020) „Materials for a lexicographic analysis of Giovanni Piana's Complete works“. Phenomenological Reviews 1, 329–335.