Investigating speech thought and writing presentation in a corpus of spoken british english
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Investigating speech, thought and writing presentation in a corpus of spoken British English. An AHRB funded project under the supervision of Mick Short, Elena Semino and Tony McEnery. Research Assistants John Heywood and Dan McIntyre. Project outline.

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Investigating speech, thought and writing presentation in a corpus of spoken British English

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Investigating speech, thought and writing presentation in a corpus of spoken British English

An AHRB funded project under the supervision of

Mick Short, Elena Semino and Tony McEnery

Research Assistants

John Heywood and Dan McIntyre


Project outline

  • To compare speech, thought and writing presentation in spoken and written English.

  • To build a new corpus of 260,000 words of spoken British English to compare with the ST&WP Written English Corpus (1995-99).

  • To investigate the presentation of speech, thought and writing in the ST&WP Spoken Corpus by tagging with the Leech and Short (1981) category set.

  • To further test and adapt the Leech and Short (1981) model of S&TP.

  • The project is funded until February 2003.


Construction of the corpus

  • 120 texts - approximately 260,000 words.

  • Texts rich in ST&WP taken from the British National Corpus (BNC) and the Centre for North West Regional Studies (CNWRS) oral history archives at Lancaster University.

  • CNWRS interview tapes digitised to be time-aligned with text.


Number and distribution of NWRS files in the corpus

NWRS Archive

Family and Social Life Archive Childhood and Schooling Archive

Male Female Male Female

1890-1940 1940-1970 1890-1940 1940-1970

7 records 7 records 8 records 8 records 15 records 15 records

i.e. 60 files with an equal balance of male and female speakers in each age-range


Number and distribution of BNC files in the corpus

BNC spoken data

Spoken Demographic Spoken Context-

Governed

Male Female

0-14 15-24 25-34 35-44 45-59 60+ 0-14 15-24 25-34 35-44 45-59 60+

5 files 5 files 5 files 5 files 5 files 5 files 5 files 5 files 5 files 5 files 5 files 5 files

i.e. 60 files with an equal balance of male and female speakers in each age-range


The development of the tag-set

Leech & Short (1981)

The ST&WP Written Project (1995…)

3 main genres: Fiction, Biography & Autobiography, and Newspaper Journalism: each divided into Serious/Popular sections.

embedded, hypothetical, inferred, quote


The development of the tag-set – new tags

The ST&WP Spoken Project (2001)

BNC spoken demographic data and NWRS oral history interviews

embedded, negative / absence,hypothetical, inferred, quote, reiterated, interrogative, imperative, uncompleted, 2 / 3 / 4


A 15-field tag-set: 5 main categories


A 15-field tag-set: 10 category attributes


Issues arising

  • Technical issues:

    • Legibility.

    • Comparability between NWRS and BNC data.

  • Tagging issues:

    • Comparability between written and spoken corpora.

    • What counts as ST&WP?

    • Functional and formal criteria.

    • Embedding.

    • Repetition (e.g. he said he said well he said).

    • Report of ‘mention’.

    • Reading, hearing, listening and singing dogs!


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