Corpus Linguistics, Context and Culture

Originally posted at on May 22, 2014 by Martin Wynne. IT Services at the University of Oxford has decided to delete a large number of historical blogs, and this is one of a number of posts related to the Oxford Text Archive which are being re-published here, after being laboriously retrieved from the archive provided by the Wayback Machine.

The following is an edited transcript of a very short introduction to a panel discussion in which I participated with Bas Aarts, Stefan Gries, Andrew Hardie, Christian Mair, Peter Stockwell on Corpus Linguistics, Context and Culture on 2nd May 2014.

We are now tantalisingly close to being able to process and analyse very large-scale textual resources with relative ease; these resources represent significant sections of the human cultural record; the opportunities for digital transformations of research in many disciplines are enormous.

Researchers are starting to use these resources to find and ask new research questions, as well as to address some old questions with more and new data, on a bigger scale, more authoritatively, more systematically; this is starting to happen and will happen with or without corpus linguists.To engage more effectively in these new forms of interdisciplinary research, we should focus more of our resources and attention on overcoming some important technical and methodological barriers; the main technical barriers are a lack of professional, reliable, persistent and sustainable services open to all – this is what CLARIN is trying to achieve; in terms of methodology, humanities scholars need to take a step towards working on some connected and common research programmes, addressing questions susceptible to big data approaches – this is down to us, the research community.

Author: Martin Wynne

Martin Wynne is a digital research specialist, corpus linguist and repository manager in the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics at the University of Oxford.

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