Working with Specialized Language: A Practical Guide to Using Corpora

Working with Specialized Language: A Practical Guide to Using Corpora

Working with Specialized Language: A Practical Guide to Using Corpora

Working with Specialized Language: A Practical Guide to Using Corpora


Working with Specialized Language: a practical guide to using corpora introduces the principles of using corpora when studying specialized language.The resources and techniques used to investigate general language cannot be easily adopted for specialized investigations. This book is designed for users of language for special purposes (LSP). Providing guidelines and practical advice, it enables LSP users to design, build and exploit corpus resources that meet their specialized language needs. Highly practical and accessible, the book includes exercises, a glossary and an appendix describing relevant resources and corpus-analysis software. Working with Specialized Language is ideal for translators, technical writers and subject specialists who are interested in exploring the potential of a corpus-based approach to teaching and learning LSP.


If you have picked up this book, you may be looking for answers to questions such as 'What exactly are corpora?' and 'How can I use corpora to help me learn a specialized language?' The aim of this book is to answer such questions.

Corpora are essentially large collections of text in electronic form. They are stored on computers and can be manipulated with the help of software known as corpus analysis tools. Corpora are a wonderful resource for people interested in studying language, but the way that people interact with corpora is different from the way they interact with printed texts. Typically, you interact with printed texts by consulting them one at a time and reading them sequentially from beginning to end. In contrast, when you investigate a corpus, you usually look at small fragments of a text (e.g. individual words or single lines of text), and you can look at multiple fragments simultaneously. Does this sound confusing? Do not worry; it is actually quite straightforward.

Corpora are becoming a very popular resource for people who want to learn more about language use. Most of the corpora that are currently used by language students contain texts written in language for general purposes (LGP)—the kind of everyday language that you find in newspapers, for example. If you are interested in learning more about using corpora for LGP investigations, you can consult a number of publications, including Sinclair (1991), Barnbrook (1996), McEnery and Wilson (1996), Stubbs (1996), Aston and Burnard (1998), Biber et al. (1998), Kennedy (1998), Partington (1998) and Tognini-Bonelli (2001).

More recently, however, teachers and students of language for special purposes (LSP) have begun to wonder whether corpora could also be used for LSP investigations. The answer is a resounding 'yes'! Corpora have a lot to offer to you as an LSP user, but sometimes it is hard to know where to begin. There are very few publications available that provide guidance on using corpora to study LSP, so that is why we have written this book. Whether you are a student, a language teacher or a practitioner (e.g. a translator or technical writer), our aim is to show you how to go about using corpora and corpus analysis tools in your own LSP investigations.

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