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corpus linguistics


corpus linguistics

Corpus Linguistics: Investigating Language Structure and Use by Douglas Biber, Susan Conrad, and Randi Reppen (Cambridge University Press, 2004)


The study of language based on examples of "real life" language use stored in corpora (or corpuses)--computerized databases created for linguistic research.

"Although the term corpus linguistics was apparently not in use until the 1980s, it is generally agreed that this sub-discipline of linguistics has been in existence longer--at least since the early 1960s" (Change in Contemporary English: A Grammatical Study, 2012). See Examples and Observations, below.

See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • "Corpus studies boomed from 1980 onwards, as corpora, techniques and new arguments in favour of the use of corpora became more apparent. Currently this boom continues--and both of the 'schools' of corpus linguistics are growing . . .. Corpus linguistics is maturing methodologically and the range of languages addressed by corpus linguists is growing annually."
    (Tony McEnery and Andrew Wilson, Corpus Linguistics, Edinburgh University Press, 2001)

  • "To make good use of corpus resources a teacher needs a modest orientation to the routines involved in retrieving information from the corpus, and--most importantly--training and experience in how to evaluate that information."
    (John McHardy Sinclair, How to Use Corpora in Language Teaching, John Benjamins, 2004)

  • Quantitative and Qualitative Analyses
    "Quantitative techniques are essential for corpus-based studies. For example, if you wanted to compare the language use of patterns for the words big and large, you would need to know how many times each word occurs in the corpus, how many different words co-occur with each of these adjectives (the collocations), and how common each of those collocations is. These are all quantitative measurements. . . .

    "A crucial part of the corpus-based approach is going beyond the quantitative patterns to propose functional interpretations explaining why the patterns exist. As a result, a large amount of effort in corpus-based studies is devoted to explaining and exemplifying quantitative patterns."
    (Douglas Biber, Susan Conrad, and Randi Reppen, Corpus Linguistics: Investigating Language Structure and Use, Cambridge University Press, 2004)

    "[I]n corpus linguistics quantitative and qualitative methods are extensively used in combination. It is also characteristic of corpus linguistics to begin with quantitative findings, and work toward qualitative ones. But . . . the procedure may have cyclic elements. Generally it is desirable to subject quantitative results to qualitative scrutiny--attempting to explain why a particular frequency pattern occurs, for example. But on the other hand, qualitative analysis (making use of the investigator's ability to interpret samples of language in context) may be the means for classifying examples in a particular corpus by their meanings; and this qualitative analysis may then be the input to a further quantitative analysis, one based on meaning . . .."
    (Geoffrey Leech, Marianne Hundt, Christian Mair, and Nicholas Smith, Change in Contemporary English: A Grammatical Study. Cambridge University Press, 2012)
Also Known As: corpus-based studies
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