Corpus linguistics and applied linguistics research online event October 2021

Researching writing development with a corpus
Dr Phil Durrant, University of Exeter
6 October 2021, 19:00 (Madrid-Paris-Brussels-Berlin time)

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Corpus research methods have much to offer the study of writing development, enabling reliable analysis of large samples of authentic learner writing and highlighting subtle developmental patterns that are difficult to detect by other means. While the increasing availability of corpora and of software for analysing them are opening up exciting new research possibilities, it is important to reflect on the methodological nature of such work and to consider what corpora can and cannot tell us about writing development. Drawing on both a large-scale literature review and a recent corpus project on school children’s writing in England, this presentation will explore how corpus measures of written language use can be employed and interpreted to inform studies of first and second language writing development. 

Phil Durrant is Associate Professor of Language and Education at the University of Exeter. He previously taught English at language schools and universities in Turkey and the UK. 

Corpus linguistics and the analysis of political discourse
Prof. Encarnación Hidalgo Tenorio, Universidad de Granada
13 October 2021, 19:00 (Madrid-Paris-Brussels-Berlin time)

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After two decades looking at political discourse in different contexts, written in several languages and from various complementary perspectives, I would like to think that I have been able to grasp the nettle, and expose the essential tricks of such an important, at points bombastic, at points ineffective, cultural product. I have analysed the impact of gender in political speeches, politicians’ metaphorical construal of the concept “nation”, how fallacies are articulated in argumentation, body language and trustworthiness in politics, the language of evaluation in populism, you name it. That is why I thought I definitely had the clue to its essence. Nevertheless, I couldn’t be more wrong. The very persuasive and performative nature of politics makes political discourse look something slippery, with still too many angles unseen to uncover. In this presentation, I will try to show how corpus methods can help to proceed in this direction; by avoiding any bias possible, we will hopefully see how concordances, sketches, semi-automatic annotation, etc. can shed light on what patterns can be present in, for example, right- and left-wing radicalism, and subsequently reflect upon why they are, interestingly enough, the same ones.

Encarnación Hidalgo-Tenorio is Professor in English Linguistics at the University of Granada, Spain. Her main research area is corpus-based CDA, where she focuses on the notions of representation and power enactment in public discourse.

Corpus linguistics and the analysis of language ideology
Dr. Rachelle Vessey, Carleton University, Canada
20 October, 19:00 (Madrid-Paris-Brussels-Berlin time)

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In this presentation, I will introduce the notion of ‘language ideology’ and how it can be studied using corpus linguistics. Although the notion of ‘ideology’ is widely associated with discourse and is analyzed in various discourse analytic approaches (including corpus-assisted discourse approaches), the concept of language ideology is more specific and has been less frequently tackled using corpus linguistic methods. In this paper, I show how corpus linguistic methods can help identify and examine language ideologies in both their implicit and explicit manifestations. Moreover, I argue that language ideology provides a critical reflexive lens, enabling corpus linguists to (re)consider the nature of the data they examine. To highlight the opportunities and challenges, I draw on examples from research on the United Nations, newspaper articles, and Twitter.

Rachelle Vessey is an Assistant Professor in the School of Linguistics and Language Studies at Carleton University (Canada). Her research centres on language ideologies and how these manifest in discourse.  She is particularly interested in how beliefs about language contribute to social inclusion and exclusion. She has examined language ideologies in large corpora of (English and French) Canadian newspapers, online forums, interviews with domestic workers, United Nations official documents and extremist magazines.

Corpus Linguistics and the Analysis of L2 Spoken and Written Texts
Dr Kris Kyle, University of Oregon
26 October, 19:00 (Madrid-Paris-Brussels-Berlin time)

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Productive lexical proficiency has been an important topic in applied linguistics for over 25 years (e.g., Crossley et al., 2011; Kyle & Crossley, 2015; Laufer & Nation, 1995). During this time, word frequency measures have played a dominant role (Laufer & Nation, 1995). While word frequency is undoubtedly important, a number of recent studies have demonstrated that lexical proficiency is most accurately modeled when multiple lexical and lexicogrammatical features are used (e.g., Kim et al., 2018; Kyle et al., 2018;). In this talk, an overview of selected measures of lexical proficiency at the word (e.g., concreteness, contextual diversity, lexical access, etc.) and lexicogrammatical (i.e., n-gram, dependency relations and verb-verb argument construction strength of association) level is provided. The use of these features is then highlighted in two learner corpus research studies.

Kristopher Kyle is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Oregon. His research interests include second language acquisition, second language writing, and second language assessment. He is addresses these topics using corpus linguistic methods through the adaptation and development of natural language processing tools.

Coordination: Prof Pascual Pérez-Paredes

This event is sponsored by the Facultad de Letras, Universidad de Murcia, and the English Department, Universidad de Murcia.