17 January 2013 13:23

Developing new approaches to the study of hate speech, exploring how people talk about climate change and looking at how changes in corporate governance are communicated will be part of the remit of a new £3.5m research hub at Lancaster University, which will study the use and manipulation of language in society.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the new Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS) will bring the latest techniques in linguistic analysis to bear on a range of questions in the social sciences.

Corpus linguistics is an approach to the study of language that uses computers to permit the analysis of millions of words of data to look for patterns of usage that are not noticeable otherwise. Researchers at Lancaster have been producing pioneering research in this area for over 40 years and it is changing the way language is analysed and how languages are taught.

Corpus linguistics has also profoundly altered how computers can engage with human language and has been significant in many of the most effective language technologies today, such as web searching and voice recognition.

The Director of the CASS, Professor Tony McEnery said: “As the Centre involves all the faculties at Lancaster, it will bring the benefits of the corpus approach to as wide a range of social science disciplines as possible and train a new generation of social sciences researchers to use these techniques.

“This will make a difference to how social science is approached in the UK and will provide insights into key social questions facing the UK today.”