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Corpus Research Group

Date: 4 February 2008 Time: 3.00-4.00 pm

Presentation by

Tuija Virtanen (Åbo Akademi University, Finland)

Discourse linguistics meets corpus linguistics:

Theoretical and methodological issues in the troubled relationship

Abstract

Discourse linguistics and corpus linguistics have an uneasy relationship because of their inherent ontological and epistemological differences. Yet, it is a steady relationship going well back in corpus-linguistic time, and one that both parties are highly motivated to keep up despite its many hazards and challenges. Singling out five complementary dimensions of discourse, understood here in a broad sense, this paper shows that not all of them will be equally accessible to users of corpus methods. Two fundamental aspects of discourse are identified as particularly challenging to corpus-linguistic enquiry: (i) the distinction between a product and a process oriented approach, and (ii) the status of the primary notion of context. This raises the issue of authenticity, suggesting a need to rethink what we mean by the notion. The important methodological distinction between a corpus-based and a corpus-driven approach to discourse serves to highlight key issues in the joint history of discourse linguistics and corpus linguistics. The paper rounds off by a discussion of the added value to be gained by a combination of discourse linguistic and corpus linguistic approaches and methods: both parties can complement one another in constructive ways to uncover new aspects of discourse that will suggest reconsideration of our present understanding and disclose tacit assumptions.

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Organising departments and research centres: Linguistics and English Language

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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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