Short Book Review – Corpus Linguistics: Method, Theory and Practice

Corpus Linguistics: Method, Theory and Practice (Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics) by Tony McEnery and Andrew Hardie, Cambridge University Press (2012). ISBN 9780521547369. 294 pages.

As part of the Cambridge Textbook in Linguistics Series this book stays true to its title and doesn’t disappoint.

Broken down into nine chapters on 1) a basic definition of the term, and types and constructions of corpora out there; 2) analysis methodology to the types of tools available today; 3) legal and ethical issues in regards to data collection and usage; 4) a rundown of corpus linguistics in English language research, one of the main areas in which it has been used; 5) on synchronic and diachronic language research; 6) the Neo-Firthian corpus linguistic approach; 7) Functionalist linguistics (vs. Formalist) and corpus; methods; 8) towards a convergence of corpus, psycholinguistics and functionists traditions, and 9) a nice summary of the story called ‘corpus linguistics’.

Covers most of the related movements including the growing trend in Cognitive Linguistics to use corpus linguistic data. Argues for a Corpus Linguistics as a method, not a theory. Could function well as a textbook as it is intended to be.

Some thoughts on language and culture

Language is culture. So if you want to learn to speak a language you need to understand the culture in which it is spoken.

And it is this that many don’t understand about their first language, that their ability to speak it is from their immersion – being in the midst of the culture – that allows them to speak it so perfectly, nicely.

Their understanding of its culture is so hidden, automatic that they actually have lost the ability to understand it, understand the significance and importance of it to their communicative abilities.

The Origin of English Words

eng origin2Here is a version of the chart I made of the origin of english words. I am guessing these are type counts and not token counts. It would be interesting to see a token count chart of this and see where the blowout (if any) is.

Exposure to Language

“Reading is more important than writing.”

— Roberto Bolaño

Without exposure to a language one will never master it. That exposure can come in many forms but the best form is culture. Culture and language are essentially the same thing. There will be no language if there is no culture the opposite is also true. So to understand a language, its nuances, meaning and usage one needs to be in contact with the very space of it. Otherwise it will ring false, be inauthentic.