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Unformatted text preview: Cognitive Linguistic studies have not gained much ground until the
1990s, and even then they were mostly conducted in Europe. Therefore,
in the first part of this chapter I would like to give a brief sketch of the
development of language corpora, and show how they can facilitate lexical studies of meaning.
Another important issue within cognitive linguistics is the conviction that both grammatical and lexical choices are meaningful, so that different ‘surface structures’ cannot stem from the same ‘deep structure’.
The variation within surface structure reflects the variation in signification. The rudimentary example, the approach to which differs in cognitive
and generative theory, is the passive voice. For generativists it is a passive
transformation – they stress the link between the active and passive form
of the sentence and view the latter as the transformation of the former or
both as the transformation of one underlying form. Cognitivists, on the
other hand, concentrate on the change of perspective, on what is foregrounded and what is downplayed in either construction of meaning. A
similar approach to meaning as construed: produced, reproduced and interpreted, is central to discourse analysis. Much of discourse analytic 54 Chapter II work concentrates on the interpretation of the language of the media. As
the present study is also concerned with data coming from the press, the
second part of this chapter offers a succinct review of the most recent literature devoted to media and their language.
2. The beginnings of language corpora
A brief history of corpus linguistics is given in Teubert (2004). He claims
that the first corpus of the English language in the modern sense has been
gathered by Sir Randolph Quirk in the late 1950s. It was created with the
aim of describing English grammar on the basis of empirical evidence,
rather than a linguist’s individual competence only. The Survey of English Usage, as the project was called, was not originally computerized. It
was fed into computers only in the mid-1980s within Quirk and
Greenbaum’s research programme under the name of the International
Corpus of English (www.ucl.ac.uk/english-usage/ice).
Another well-known corpus, the Brown Corpus, was gathered in
the US by Francis and Kucera in the 1960s. Surprisingly, though, it did
not gain much interest in America once it was completed.
The third well-known English language corpus was the LancasterOslo-Bergen Corpus used in the studies of grammar and word frequency
by, among others, such scholars as Johansson, Leech and Hofland.
The first corpus which was constructed with the intention of conducting lexical research was the one gathered by John Sinclair in Edinburgh. His corpus-driven investigations into meaning have led him to
doubt the claim that a word should be the basic unit of investigating
meaning, so that he started to emphasize the importance of collocation
(Sinclair 1991). Words abstracted from the context did not seem to have
unambiguous meaning assigned to them, whereas t...
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