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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter 2020

Corpus linguistics: Widening the remit

From the book Corpus Linguistics, Context and Culture

  • Wolfgang Teubert


Language allows us to turn our experiences into meaning and share them with others. This is why linguistics, and corpus linguistics in particular, should have a strong focus on the meaning of what is said. If we accept the meaning of a lexical item such as human rights to be everything said about it (the paraphrastic content of all occurrences of this item), we’ll find that the Firthian concept of meaning (1957: 196) as an “abstraction on the syntagmatic level”, which has been the core of corpus-oriented collocation studies, does not really allow us to make sense of what has been said. Statistics is no more than a heuristic tool; it makes us aware of what may be relevant. The methodology of corpus linguistics must include paraphrase analysis. The aim is to extract, organise and present the relevant textual evidence. It is then up to the discourse participants themselves to interpret these findings and come up with new paraphrases.

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