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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:

Edited by Hilde Hasselgård, Stig Johansson, Bergljot Behrens and Cathrine Fabricius-Hansen

The present volume draws together contributions from a number of scholars with an interest in empirical, cross-linguistic description. Most of the papers were first presented at the symposium Information Structure in a Cross-linguistic Perspective held in Oslo in November/December 2000. The descriptions are functionally oriented, and their common focus is how information structure – in a broad sense – can be compared across languages. 'Information structure' has been approached in a variety of ways by the authors, so as to give a broad picture of this fundamental principle of text production, involving the way in which a speaker/writer chooses to present a message in terms of given/new information, focus, cohesion, and point of view. Central to much of the research is the problem of establishing criteria for isolating linguistic constraints on language use from cultural-linguistic conventions in text production. The linguistic comparison includes English, German and/or one of the Scandinavian languages, with sidelights to other languages. Most of the papers are text- or corpus-based, and the ongoing work on parallel corpora in Scandinavia is reflected in several contributions.

The Progressive in Modern English

A Corpus-Based Study of Grammaticalization and Related Changes

Series:

Svenja Kranich

This book constitutes the first full-length diachronic treatment of the English progressive from Old English to Present-day English, focusing on the crucial phase of its grammaticalization between the 17th and 20th centuries. It uses data from the British component of ARCHER-2 (A Representative Corpus of Historical English Registers, version 2) to uncover the details of this long-term grammaticalization process, tracing the development of the construction from a stylistic device to a fully-fledged aspect marker. Illustrated by a wealth of examples, the work offers new results concerning the preferred linguistic environments and the development of the functions of the progressive. In contrast to previous studies, the author shows that there are certain restrictions to context expansion in grammaticalization. She argues convincingly that the persistent reluctance of the progressive to occur in certain contexts does not point to incomplete grammaticalization, but can instead be explained as a product of its particular functions. The author also challenges the tenet that grammaticalization is generally accompanied by subjectification.

Adverbial Subordination in English

A Functional Approach

Series:

María Jesús Pérez Quintero

This book presents a detailed corpus-based study of adverbial subordinate clauses in English within the framework of the theory of Functional Grammar. On the basis of an in-depth data analysis, this study shows that there is a systematic correlation between the semantic types of adverbial clauses, on the one hand, and the verb forms by means of which these constructions are expressed in English, on the other.
In contrast to most traditional classifications, the criterion used for the semantic classification of adverbial clauses is not simply the basic meaning of the conjunction introducing the subordinate clause. Instead, the present classification is based on the systematic and consistent application of four semantic parameters: Entity Type, Time Dependency, Factuality and Presupposition. The relevance of the application of these parameters is not only that they allow to establish a complete and exhaustive typology of adverbial clauses, but also that they form the basis for four implicational hierarchies that determine the distribution of expression formats along the different semantic types of adverbial clauses.
This book also constitutes a contribution to the application of Functional Grammar to the corpus-based analysis of a specific language and, more specifically, to the validation of the hierarchical model of the structure of the clause postulated within this theoretical framework.