What is Corpus Linguistics?

The study of language using real-life examples is known as corpus linguistics. It is a methodology or approach, not a branch of linguistics. The corpus, which is Latin for “body,” refers to the body of natural texts, and the approach entails analyzing the corpus to discover patterns of language use. Computer programs have revolutionized corpus linguistics, allowing it to make a comeback.

A simple example of a corpus that can be studied to learn language patterns is a parent’s diary of a child’s speech as he first acquires language. In the first half of the twentieth century, corpora of the target language were frequently used to compile vocabulary lists for students. Noam Chomsky, a renowned linguist, did not consider corpora to be a useful tool because he believed that language competency was more important than performance data. Early corpus linguistics was largely predicated on the assumption that a natural language has a finite number of sentences that can be collected and evaluated.

Corpus linguistics is regaining popularity after falling out of favor in the 1960s and 1970s due to the computer’s methodological use. Linguists’ most commonly used software is known as the concordance program. A human would take too long to search patterns in a corpus of millions of words, and the results would be inaccurate, but a computer can search and retrieve information in seconds. It can do things like calculate frequency, sort data, and use corpora in ways that were previously impossible.

How register affects language; patterns of language use, such as how males and females use tag questions differently; the extent to which language patterns are used; and the factors that affect the variability of language use can all be investigated using corpus-based analysis. Corpus linguistics can be used in the classroom to improve the design of the syllabus, the development of the materials used, and the types of activities used. Students might benefit from the approach if they can better understand the various uses and meanings of common words, the differences between written and spoken language, and phrases and collocations they can use. The corpus is a constantly updated collection of data that is the result of real-life social interactions. As a result, the corpora are naturalistic data that can be easily accessed and generalized.