Corpus linguistics

Studying language as part of the digital humanities

Authored by: Gill Philip

The Routledge Handbook of English Language Studies

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138913455
eBook ISBN: 9781351001724
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter offers an overview of corpus linguistics – the computer-aided study of text – and its main contributions to the study of the English language. The chapter covers technical, theoretical and methodological aspects. It starts by explaining the different ways in which software tools allow text to be visualised so that the analyst can observe the co-occurrence of words (collocation), of word classes (colligation), and of semantically-related terms (semantic preference). It then looks at three broad approaches to corpus linguistics that are currently in use, namely corpus-driven, corpus-based, and corpus-assisted. Since corpus linguistics can be thought of as a theoretical approach, the most important theoretical contributions that it has made to language study are outlined in brief; more space is however dedicated to the application of corpus linguistics methods within different areas of English language research, particularly lexicology, discourse studies, and literary stylistics. Finally, the extension of corpus linguistics approaches into the humanities at large is offered as demonstration for its importance as a digital humanities research method.

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