Corpus Linguistics and the Description of English

Corpus Linguistics and the Description of English

Corpus Linguistics and the Description of English

Corpus Linguistics and the Description of English

Synopsis

An accessible, hands-on introduction to the use of electronic corpora in the description and analysis of English. After introducing corpora and the rationale behind corpus linguistics and describing the basic methodology, Hans Lindquist presents a number of case studies that offer new insights about vocabulary, collocations, phraseology, metaphor, metonymy, syntactic structures, male and female language, register and style, and changes in language.

Each chapter features exercises and suggestions for further reading. The book will appeal to students because of its clear language and structure, well-defined terminology, step-by-step instructions, generous and up-to-date examples from different varieties of English around the world, and accompanying web-pages with additional exercises and recent research concerning freely accessible corpora. This book is aimed at university students of English at the intermediate level and is especially well suited for students planning term papers and longer projects.

Excerpt

There are many “hyphenated branches” of linguistics, where the first part of the name tells you what particular aspect of language is under study: sociolinguistics (the relation between language and society), psycholinguistics (the relation between language and the mind), neurolinguistics (the relation between language and neurological processes in the brain) and so on. The stand of the present book is that corpus linguistics is not a branch of linguistics on a par with these other branches, since “corpus” does not tell you what is studied, but rather that a particular methodology is used. Corpus linguistics is thus a methodology, comprising a large number of related methods which can be used by scholars of many different theoretical leanings. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that corpus linguistics is also frequently associated with a certain outlook on language. At the centre of this outlook is that the rules of language are usage-based and that changes occur when speakers use language to communicate with each other. The argument is that if you are interested in the workings of a particular language, like English, it is a good idea to study English in use. One efficient way of doing this is to use corpus methodology, and that is what this book is about. We will see how the idea of using electronic corpora began around 1960, fairly soon after computers started becoming reasonably powerful, and how the field has developed over the last fifty-odd years. We will look at different types of corpora, study the techniques involved and look at the results that can be achieved. Since the field has grown phenomenally in the 2000s, it is impossible to cover every aspect of it, and what is presented in this book therefore has to be a selection of what I personally think a student of English should know. Throughout the book the focus will be on the joy and fascination that lie in the description and analysis of the English language, which after all is the purpose of all these efforts. The ultimate aim is to learn more . . .

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