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Corpus Linguistics. Do you agree?. [the pattern where going to is used for future reference] “ is very common, indeed, probably more common than sentences with WILL and SHALL in ordinary conversation ”

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Corpus Linguistics

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Corpus linguistics

Corpus Linguistics

Corpus linguistics

Do you agree?

[the pattern where going to is used for future reference]

“is very common, indeed, probably more common than sentences with WILL and SHALL in ordinary conversation”

(Palmer 1965:63, 1974:37)

Palmer, F. R. 1965. A linguistic study of the English verb. London: Longman.

-- 1974. The English verb. London: Longman. .

How do you know

How do you know?

  • Trust your intuition

  • See what others have said about it

  • Look at how language is used

    • Observer’s paradox

    • Objectivity

    • Representativeness

Corpus linguistics

Use a corpus!!!

Corpus linguistics

What is a corpus?

  • A collection of naturally occurring language data compiled to mirror a language or language variety

  • (Usually) computer-readable

  • (Sometimes) contains more than text (for example annotation, metadata, other media)‏

Corpus linguistics

How can a corpus help?

  • ‘Real language’ – language in use

  • Based on a variety of sources

  • See several examples

  • Look for patterns to see (irr)regularities

  • Quantify

Corpus linguistics

For what do you use a corpus?

  • Compare variants

    • Which is more frequent? In what context?

  • Compare text types/genres/speakers

    • Who uses more slang? What is typical of the language of XX?

  • Look for a feature

    • Does it exist, where/how is it used?

  • Quantify results

  • Identify patterns of use

Corpus linguistics

Course outline

More info:

  • 6 sessions

  • Separate topics

    • Connected but not dependent on previous

  • Demonstrations and suggestions for practical tasks

  • Please register for each session via IT Services and cancel if you can’t attend!

Corpus linguistics


  • Know how to ‘think corpus linguistics’ (CL)

    • Be able to read CL literature

    • Design CL studies

    • Perform CL studies

  • Have experience of some different corpora and tools

  • Know where to go for more information and advice

Corpus linguistics

What do you need to know to successfully use a corpus?

  • What’s in your corpus?

  • How do you find what you are looking for?

  • How do you make sense of what you find?

Corpus linguistics

Your result is only as good as the corpus you are using!!!

John Sinclair

Corpus linguistics

How do you use a corpus?


  • Lexical starting point

  • Retrieve examples

    • examine quantitatively (count)

    • examine each in detail

  • Compare and contrast, summarise

  • The computer can help, but you need human input!!

Let s try it

What do you borrow?

And how?

Let’s try it!

Corpus linguistics

Corpus linguistics

Further reading

See Weblearn:

  • Reading list + List of corpora

  • Presentations and handouts

    Wynne (2008) ‘Searching and Concordancing’ (free pre-print at )

Corpus linguistics

Corpus Linguistics

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