How can Joseph Wright’s English Dialect Dictionary be used as a corpus?

in Corpus Linguistics and Variation in English
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The paper will first provide a short introduction to EDD Online, and then illustrate the potential of its interface by topicalising interjections as a word class and compounding as a productive type of word formation in dialect. In Section 3 the theoretical question of a dictionary used as a corpus will be tackled. Section 4 is dedicated to the contents and structure of Wright’s sources, Section 5 to what he calls “citations”. Quantitatively speaking, probably more than half of Wright’s English Dialect Dictionary (EDD), now available in a beta version from the Innsbruck project EDD Online, consists of citations, i.e. text passages from dialect literature, glossaries or other sources. While these citation passages are meant to illustrate particular lexical points, they are often fairly extensive, so that the idea may occur to isolate them from the rest of the entries to create an autonomous dialect corpus. My paper will investigate the feasibility of this idea, mainly analysing in close-up Wright’s citations and the sources attributed to them. Further aspects to consider will be the dates of sources, as well as the correlation of the sources with dialectal areas and formal features of word formation including compounds, derivations, and phrases. The study will give evidence that the EDD provides not just some kind of a corpus of dialect texts, but a very structured one, with time, place and source being the main parameters.


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