Corpus linguistics and dialectology

Corpus linguistics and dialectology - Corpus linguistics...

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Corpus linguistics and dialectology Lieselotte Anderwald and Benedikt Szmrecsanyi 1. Introduction In contrast to sociolinguistics, dialectology and corpus linguistics have been rather uneasy bedfellows until relatively recently. In this article, we will focus on the use of modern corpora in the field of traditional dialectology – corpora, that is, which constitute principled, possibly computerized, and broadly representative collections of naturalistic spoken (and sometimes written) dialect material. This sets apart corpus-based dialectology from other approaches in empirical dialectology, which may be based on, e.g., dialect atlases and/or questionnaire data. The subject matter of traditional dialectology (as opposed to urban dialectology), then, is the distribution of linguistic features where, crucially, the primary parameter of variation is geographical distance and proximity between sampling locales. This means that this article will exclude from discussion corpora documenting variation between standard dialects (e.g. British English vs. American English), and we will also remain agnostic about corpus work on youth dialects and other sociolects, where variation is not stratified geographically but rather sociologically (but on this topic, cf. article 6 on corpora in sociolinguistics). 2. Aim and scope of traditional dialectology The study of (non-standard) dialects has a venerable tradition going back at least to the nineteenth century (for a short overview, cf. Chambers/Trudgill 1998; for developments more specifically related to English, cf. Ihalainen 1994). Interest in rural varieties of a language that were (or appeared to be) far removed from the standard language were kindled by the Neogrammarian dictum of the 'exceptionlessness of sound change' (Ausnahmslosigkeit der Lautgesetze), a dictum dialect data could support (or, indeed, refute) – many theoretically interesting intermediate stages of proposed changes could actually be documented with the help of dialect data. Especially isolated, rural dialects were seen as unspoilt or uncorrupted varieties, representing diachronically removed stages of the language in a purer form. This more theoretical interest in (at least certain) non-standard varieties seems to have been superseded by an interest in the dialect per se , often by dialect speakers themselves – witness the establishment of many regional dialect societies e.g. in England at the end of the nineteenth century, the most prominent of which is perhaps the Yorkshire Dialect Society, founded in 1897 by the scholar Joseph Wright, himself a Yorkshireman and author of the monumental English Dialect Dictionary (1898-1905). (The society exists to this day, see
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http://www.ydsociety.org.uk/.) As, naturally, dialects are as little static as any other living linguistic system, observable tendencies of change were perceived as threatening the 'purity' or authenticity of the 'real' dialect, leading to efforts to preserve or at least record their
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This note was uploaded on 01/21/2012 for the course ENG 111 taught by Professor Nis during the Spring '11 term at uot.

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Corpus linguistics and dialectology - Corpus linguistics...

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