Corpus linguistics and the description of English by Hans Lindquist

By Hans Lindquist

1: Corpus linguistics; 2: Counting, calculating and annotating; three: trying to find lexis; four: Checking colligations and collocations; five: discovering words; 6: Metaphor and metonymy; 7: Grammar; eight: female and male; nine: Language switch; 10: Corpus linguistics in our on-line world; extra studying

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Corpus data provide the frequency of occurrence of linguistic items. • Corpus data do not only provide illustrative examples, but are a theoretical resource. ). • Corpora provide the possibility of total accountability of linguistic features – the analyst should account for everything in the data, not just selected features. • Computerised corpora give researchers all over the world access to the data. • Corpus data are ideal for non-native speakers of the language. (Svartvik 1992: 8–10) However, Svartvik also points out that it is crucial that the corpus linguist engages in careful manual analysis as well: mere figures are rarely 10 CORPUS LINGUISTICS enough.

Corpus linguists have sometimes been accused of just counting what can be counted, regardless of whether it is linguistically interesting or not. It may be true that some of us have been guilty of such misdemeanours, but on the whole one now sees less and less of such tendencies. But it is important to stress that all quantitative studies also must include an element of qualitative method. First of all, in order to be able to decide what to count, you need categories, which must be based on 25 26 CORPUS LINGUISTICS a qualitative analysis.

Source: Based on Svartvik and Quirk (1980: 21–22) 13 14 Kenneth: Cliff: Kenneth: Cliff: Kenneth: CORPUS LINGUISTICS Come upstairs and listen to the tape? Blinding tape! do you wanna hear it? Can’t be bothered. Come on Cliff listen. It’s funny [man I te=] [Bring it] down here. Nah. It’s better you got them speakers. It’s enough funny man I’m telling ya! Come upstairs, play on the hi-fi. I I, bet you any money you’ll laugh . . sniff . . 7 Excerpt from COLT. Source: Stenström et al (2002: 144) surreptitiously, but this is now illegal, so later spoken corpora have had to be made using other methods.

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