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Corpus Linguistics. [email protected] [email protected] 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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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

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)‏

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

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

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!


  • 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

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?

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!

Further reading

See Weblearn:

  • Reading list + List of corpora

  • Presentations and handouts

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