Session I / Part II (-> Handout)
I will give a presentation on a corpus-based
approach to the study of (specialist) language. To get us started, I will ask
you to note down all you know about the German word ‘Aufmerksamkeit’ and the
English word ‘attention’; we will then compare your intuitions about these
words with evidence from a large corpus (a machine-held collection of texts).
The point I’ll be trying to make is that intuition is prone to error and
imprecision when it comes to describing the realities of language use. Many
pre-electronic descriptions of language testify to this, either in making gross
misjudgements about the behaviour of a language item, or in presenting examples
which have the unmistakeable ring of artificiality.
I will then proceed to discuss the methodology
and software used in corpus linguistics, answering the following questions:
How do you build a corpus?
How do you analyse a corpus?
We will then discuss some of the implications
and applications of corpus-based analysis:
How can corpus analysis help us to describe
How can corpus analysis help us to teach
special language? (for academic English, see Tim Johns, Kibbitzer)
More detailed introductions to corpus
linguistics are Catherine Ball, Concordances and
Corpora, Tony McEnery/Andrew Wilson, Corpus
Linguistics and Graeme Kennedy, Introduction to Corpus Linguistics.
London: Longman 1998; I have published a French-language
article on a corpus-driven approach to grammar. Those of you who are
interested in using concordancing software can download a free DOS-based
concordancer called Microconcord at http://www.liv.ac.uk/~ms2928/homepage.html
(click on Other software). Corpora of specialist texts can be constructed
from texts freely available on the World Wide Web using off-line browsers or Corpus Web
(the advantage of the latter being that it automatically converts html format
into txt format).
Assignment for Session 2: To recap on today’s
session, read Catherine Ball, Concordances and
Corpora, Lynne Bowker/Jennifer Pearson, Working
with Specialized Language and/or Tony McEnery/Andrew Wilson, Corpus
Linguistics (You may also wish to read the article on ‘corpora’ in Linguistics
Encyclopaedia.) Then download Microconcord at http://www.liv.ac.uk/~ms2928/homepage.html
(click on Other software in the left-hand margin) and a corpus of
specialist (film studies) texts onto your hard disk, placing them in the
same directory; open the Windows explorer and start Microconcord by clicking on
the file named ‘MCONCORD’ (application/Anwendung).
Search the corpus for the following specialist
terms and try to describe their behaviour (i.e. compounds, collocations,
phraseology, complementation patterns) in meticulous detail: shot (= Aufnahme),
cut (= Schnitt / schneiden).