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What is sampling and representativeness?

In this video, Professor Dan McIntyre talks about some of the core principles behind corpora and corpus methods.

In this final week of the course, we will be exploring how the use of methods from corpus linguistics has transformed stylistics. If you’re not familiar with corpus linguistics, don’t worry. We’ll begin by explaining what a corpus is and then we’ll talk through some of the common analytical methods used in corpus linguistics. In particular, we’ll look at how these methods can be used to supplement stylistic analysis.

The reason that corpus methods are useful in stylistics is that they solve a problem that Leech and Short (2007) summarise as follows:

…the sheer bulk of prose writing is intimidating; […] In prose, the problem of how to select – what sample passages, what features to study – is more acute, and the incompleteness of even the most detailed analysis more apparent. (Leech and Short 2007: 2)

It’s impossible to analyse lengthy texts qualitatively but corpus linguistic methods offer another way of examining them. And it’s not just prose fiction that we can analyse, of course. We can use corpus methods to explore texts of all types and lengths, as you’ll find out this week.

To begin with, watch the video in which Dan McIntyre talks about some of the core principles behind corpora.


Leech, G. and Short, M. (2007) Style in Fiction: A Linguistic Introduction to English Fictional Prose. 2nd edition. Abingdon: Routledge.

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Stylistics: Using Linguistics to Explore Texts and Meaning

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