Lancaster University Department of Linguistics and Modern English Language
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Regional Variation: "in (the) light of"
in British and American English


Pre-Task Discussion

According to the dictionary, the idiom in the light of means "in consideration of". Is there anything else we can say about in the light of, for example:

  • Is the idiom in the light of more common than the literal in the light of?
  • Is in light of (ie without the) the same as in the light of?
  • Are there differences according to text category (e.g. scientific writing versus fiction)?
  • Do the British use the idiom in the light of and/or in light of more than Americans?
  • Are there any signs of historical change in either variety?


Use this link to get a table for your results, as before.

  1. To select the Brown corpus: Click the green button in the Concord window, then where it says you have 15 texts chosen, click on Change Seletion. This takes you back to the Choose Texts window.
  2. Click on Clear Previous. Very important!
    Then find the Brown folder and select all 15 files.
  3. In "Getting Started" window, click on [change search-word] and type in in the light of and then [Go Now].
  4. Read the concordance and count the idiomatic uses only. Fill in the number of entries in the first empty box in the results table.
  5. Repeat the above for in light of.
  6. Do steps 1) to 5) for Frown and FLOB.
  7. If you have time, work out the percentage difference in frequency between AmE and BrE in 1961 and 1991 (using all four corpora).


Do the results truly answer the original questions? i.e. do you think the differences are through pure luck, or could the difference be significant?

In later sessions we will discuss the importance of significance testing.