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Silvia Bernardini (University of Bologna)

Do we still need corpora (now that we have the Web)?

Abstract

Corpus linguistics as an approach to language study and a research methodology developed in an era in which assembling collections of language materials was a lengthy and costly procedure, resulting in relatively small (compared to current standard) resources. The principles underlying the approach, i.e., the need to observe actual language performance (rather than tap linguistic competence) - are still valid today, and would seem to be less often questioned than in the past. One may wonder whether the associated methodology, however, may not be quickly becoming obsolete. Availability of an extremely large quantity and variety of language material on the Web means that, for many applied and research purposes, the lengthy procedures of corpus design and construction can be bypassed or greatly simplified. In this talk I review recent work conducted in the area at the interface between corpus and Web linguistics, focusing in particular on initiatives of Web-as-corpus construction and use in areas such as language teaching/learning, translator education, translation practice and terminology/lexicography (see e.g. Baroni and Bernardini 2006). In so doing, I hope to stimulate lively discussion on the advantages and limitations of using “traditional” corpora as opposed to the Web for linguistic purposes, and ultimately on the future of corpus linguistics as we know it.

Reference
Baroni, Marco and Bernardini, Silvia (eds.) 2006. Wacky! Working papers on the Web as Corpus. Bologna: GEDIT. online: http://wackybook.sslmit.unibo.it/

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