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Roberta Facchinetti

Abstract

The aim of the present study is to chart the distribution and semantic/pragmatic values of can and could in Present-day British English. To do so, I have analysed the British Component of the International Corpus of English (ICE-GB), covering 1,000,000 words distributed across a variety of textual categories. The quantitative figures of the two modals have been drawn from the whole corpus, while a 10% random sample has been selected for semantic analysis. The data confirm that in contemporary British English can and could exhibit a spectrum of quantitative distributions and semantic values. This is particularly true of the overall higher frequency of can as opposed to could, and the discrepancy between the two modals recorded in their epistemic and dynamic uses. Special attention has been given to instances of ‘dynamic implication’, which are superficially similar to the occurrences of dynamic ability, but need a broader pragmatic framework to be interpreted correctly.

Series:

David C. Minugh

Abstract

Unlike major English-language corpora hitherto released, on-line college student newspapers provide an unexplored record from much younger writers. In these newspapers, 20-year-olds address their peers in a situation that largely parallels standard newspaper writing as regards formal correctness and time pressure. Nearly unconstrained by outside intervention or house style sheets, they deal with a range of university student interests, including creative writing. This preliminary version of the Coll Corpus consists of one issue each of nearly all 300-plus college and university newspapers available on the Web as of spring 1999, with a total of 3.88 million words. Although American English (AmE) dominates, the resultant geographical distribution is relatively well matched to actual population ratios. In its present form, the corpus already allows exploration of numerous lexical and semantic features along temporal and geographic dimensions. Given its on-line accessibility, future versions should be easily expandable by several orders of magnitude.

Series:

Vincent B Y Ooi

Abstract

This paper suggests that an important frontier for corpus linguistics to reach is the ability to handle more precisely the discourse of imagined/virtual/on-line communities on the World Wide Web and their attendant linguistic expressions. Computer-mediated communication, exemplified by the Internet Relay Chat/‘I Seek You’ genre, brings the global world together every day and has proved to be immensely popular. Such types of discourse present a challenge to corpus linguistics, whose agenda should then include refining appropriate computational tools, and linguistic theories, in order to provide a more thorough investigation of such new linguistic patterns. This paper examines aspects of this agenda to measure new electronic textualities within the paradigm of corpus linguistics. It compares the ability of two well-known corpus taggers to handle such texts, and discusses some of the lexicogrammatical patterns that emerge from an Internet Relay Chat corpus.

Series:

Hans Martin Lehmann

Abstract

This large-scale corpus study documents the use of zero subject relative constructions in spoken American and British English. For this purpose, it makes extensive use of automated retrieval strategies. It shows that zero subject relatives are still present in spoken American and British English, as represented in the British National Corpus and the Longman Spoken American Corpus. Moreover, there is a sharp difference between American English with 2.5% and British English with 13% of subject relatives with zero relativizer. Although zero subject relative constructions are frequently found with existentials and it–clefts they are by no means limited to these constructions. The social variables of the study (most notably age) come from speaker annotation which is used to provide the apparent time dimension.

Series:

Peter Schneider

Abstract

This paper describes the ongoing development of a software spelling normalization system named ZENSPELL. It is intended to assign normalized, present-day English spellings to 18th spelling variants with minimal user intervention while keeping the source text intact and available for comparison. The article examines the possibility of adapting 18th century English newspaper texts in order to make them comply with 20th century spelling rules. The idea is to create a hybrid text: like glossed word-for-word ‘translations’ of Latin texts, the target text will contain 18th century sentences, but with 20th century orthographic words. Despite somewhat doubtful linguistic qualities, the resulting ‘artificial’ text will be useful for two purposes: first, lexical searches can be made using one normalized search term instead of having to guess possible spelling variations of the intended term. Second, the target text can be used as input for wordclass taggers such as ENGCG

Series:

Norbert Schlüter

Abstract

Temporal relations in English are expressed by both verbal patterns and non-verbal elements, such as temporal adverbials. Most grammatical descriptions referring to temporal adverbials in this function, however, are not derived from empirical investigations but from intuitive impressions. The aim of this paper is to present results of a corpus-based study on the temporal specification of the present perfect. The paper investigates the degree of temporally specified utterances with the present perfect and distinguishes the temporal adverbials according to their syntactic realisations. In the final part, the paper lists the 10 most frequent temporal adverbials co-occurring with the present perfect in British and American English and compares both lists to each other. The analysis presented here is part of a more comprehensive empirical study of the present perfect in British and American English and in ELT.

Series:

Alain Rihs

In this paper, we provide evidence for the French gerund’s so-called overlap thesis. This classic thesis has been questioned notably by Gettrup (1977) and Kleiber (2007): for them, overlap is not part of the gerund’s semantic core. We advocate, however, that relevant interpretations of propositions containing gerunds always imply some sort of overlapping relation. The overlapping constraint allows us to discriminate between the gerund and the present participle (when it scopes over the main clause’s subject). Thus, we examine some examples with present participles that necessitate the strict adjacency of the eventualities involved.