• Lancaster University

Corpus Linguistics: Method, Analysis, Interpretation

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

75,319 enrolled on this course

Corpus Linguistics
  • Duration

    8 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

The course aims to:

  • Demonstrate that corpus approaches to social science can offer valuable insight into social reality by investigating the use and manipulation of language in society.
  • Equip social scientists with skills necessary for collecting and analysing large digital collections of text (corpora).
  • Provide educational support for those who want to use the corpus method.
  • Demonstrate the use of corpus linguistics in the humanities, especially History.
  • Give a sense of the incredibly wide uses that corpora have been put to.
  • Allow those with an interest in language, who have not heard of the corpus approach before, a new way of looking at language.
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Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds Language 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 seconds The 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 seconds By 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 seconds On 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 seconds Language defines what we are.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

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?

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

Who developed the course?

Lancaster University

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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