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Online course

Corpus Linguistics: Method, Analysis, Interpretation

Offers a practical introduction to the methodology of corpus linguistics for researchers in social sciences and humanities

Corpus Linguistics: Method, Analysis, Interpretation

Learn how to build and query corpora in this practical course

This course offers a practical introduction to corpus linguistics, an extremely versatile methodology of language analysis using computers. Over eight weeks, course participants will be equipped with skills necessary for collecting and analysing large digital collections of text (corpora) and introduced to a number of topics demonstrating the use of corpora in areas as diverse as discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, and language learning and teaching.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsLanguage defines what we are. Something linguists argue it's the very essence of being human. It's the key skill that sets us apart from animals. Yet while we use language routinely, on a daily basis, it's something which we don't fully consciously comprehend. It's difficult to understand consciously the mechanics of language. Until recently, the sheer scale of language defied a comprehensive analysis, but that wasn't for want of evidence. As you can see, we're surrounded by the evidence for the use of language. There is a sea of words around me here, but of course, without suitable help, an analyst can drown in this sea of words, so we need to step out of the age of paper and ink.

Skip to 1 minute and 6 secondsThe computer has changed everything. For the first time, we're able to rapidly and reliability search through millions or even billions of words of data. At the same time, electronic publishing has made available to us, on a scale that's quite unprecedented, electronic language data, texts. We can gather those texts together into a body of data called a corpus, the plural of which is corpora, that we use to study language on a computer. Now, the development of such corpora is leading to a golden age in the study of language. For the first time, as the vast collections of data become available, we can easily study language across a range of languages and even back through time.

Skip to 2 minutes and 2 secondsBy entering the digital age, analysts are able to search for patterns that would probably defy analysis by hand and eye alone. Take, for example, the word tendencies. It's usually associated with negative things. Now, some of you may not have known that. Some of you may have suspected it. The great thing about using corpus data is you can look into the data. If you didn't know it, you're shown it. If you suspected it, you can confirm your suspicions. Now. This revolution in the study of language has probably touched on your everyday life already. Dictionaries, grammar, spell checkers, grammar checkers, speech synthesis systems, even web search engines, to some extent, rely on these insights into language provided by corpus data.

Skip to 2 minutes and 53 secondsOn this course, you'll learn about the range of applications of corpus data in the study of language both in linguistics and beyond it, in the social sciences for example. Importantly, you'll also get a sense of what it's like to study at Lancaster University. You'll have lectures, practical tasks, readings, additional lectures, and discussions available to you each week. So I welcome you to join me in this journey into language. I think you'll find it interesting. You'll certainly find it empowering because, by the end of the course, you too will be able to carry out some of these analyses on your own.

Skip to 3 minutes and 52 secondsLanguage defines what we are.

What topics will you cover?

  • Introduction to corpus linguistics and basic techniques: concordancing
  • Further corpus techniques: collocation and keywords
  • Corpus-based discourse analysis
  • Building a corpus: tagging and processing data
  • Sociolinguistics: analysing BNC1994 and BNC2014
  • Textbook and dictionary construction
  • Language learning and corpus linguistics
  • Swearing extravaganza: looking at language and society

When would you like to start?

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Interpret corpus data using techniques such as concordancing, collocation and keywords.
  • Describe the main methodological underpinnings behind corpus linguistics.
  • Apply corpus linguistic techniques to the analysis of different types of data.
  • Collect own corpora.
  • Design research studies using corpus methods.
  • Explain corpus methods as well as a range of applications of this versatile methodology.
  • Perform corpus analysis using a range of corpus tools such as #LancsBox, CQPweb, USAS and BNClab.

Who is the course for?

Other than an interest in the study of language, there are no requirements to join this course.

Who will you learn with?

Tony McEnery

Has been working for over 20 years to help pioneer new ways to use computers to analyse very large collections of language data.

Vaclav Brezina

Corpus linguist, lead developer of #LancsBox.

Who developed the course?

Lancaster University is a collegiate university, with a global reputation as a centre for research, scholarship and teaching with an emphasis on employability.

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