By Hans Lindquist
1: Corpus linguistics; 2: Counting, calculating and annotating; three: trying to find lexis; four: Checking colligations and collocations; five: discovering words; 6: Metaphor and metonymy; 7: Grammar; eight: female and male; nine: Language swap; 10: Corpus linguistics in our on-line world; additional interpreting
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Extra info for Corpus linguistics and the description of English
5, we see the most frequent adjectives. Few people would probably guess that other is the most frequent adjective in English, since for most of us prototypical adjectives are descriptive ones like the adjectives that come after other in the list: good, new, old etc. Referring to our question at the beginning, it turns out that large is 39% more frequent than big in the BNC (471 against 338 tokens per million words). 4 (continued) Verb lemma follow begin bring like going help start run N per million words 460 440 439 424 417 416 414 406 Source: Based on Leech et al.
If we ask about ‘types’ rather than ‘tokens’, on the other hand, we are interested in how many different words the corpus contains. According to one count, there are 757,087 different word forms in the BNC. 6. Note that the category of word forms occurring only once especially includes thousands of odd abbreviations and strings of characters and misspelt words, many proper names such as al-Hashemi, scientific substance names such as 3,3-diaminobenzidinetetrahydrochloride, figures and measurements such as 39-metre-high, and foreign words such as ankus in (1).
It is common to distinguish two main types of scientific method in linguistics (and in general): qualitative and quantitative. If you use a qualitative method you make close analyses of, for example, individual texts or grammatical constructions that you know from introspection or get from other sources. Through these analyses you arrive at theories about language by induction, or test hypotheses which you have set up in advance. Typical proponents of the qualitative method are the schools of generative linguistics emanating from Chomsky’s work, but here also belong, at least traditionally, many other schools of linguistics.