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Choose a topic, an issue, a genre, an author, or a literary text (or texts) that interests you, and explore it using the methods of corpus linguistics.

Write a 10-page (A4, 12-pt font and double-spaced) project essay on ONE of the following topics

Choose a topic, an issue, a genre, an author, or a literary text (or texts) that interests you, and explore it using the methods of corpus linguistics.

Start by choosing your target data, which could be a topic (e.g. surfing; the fashion industry; Irish dancing; a controversial pop star), or an issue (e.g. tuition fees; global warming; euthanasia), or a genre (e.g. sports news reporting; academic prose; romantic fiction; rap song lyrics), or an author (e.g. Charles Dickens; Jane Austen), or a literary text (or texts) that interests you, and which can be explored using the methods of corpus linguistics.

Possible areas of investigation include (but are not limited to): (i) a comparison of the structure and vocabulary of two genres of fiction (e.g. romantic fiction versus detective fiction), or one genre (e.g. live sports commentary) versus other genres; (ii) the arguments and agenda of the opposing sides in a major debate (e.g. university tuition fees, animal experimentation), media representations of a religion (e.g. Islam, Judaism) or a social group (e.g. immigrants from certain places), media representations of a celebrity (e.g. one who is controversial or one whose popularity over the years has changed); (iii) the language of participants in a TV or radio program (e.g. BBC weather forecasters, the panel judges on a TV show).

Introduce your essay with (i) a short background to your chosen topic, issue, genre, author, or literary text(s); (ii) a presentation and discussion of the research questions that you will be using to guide your analysis; and (iii) a presentation of a hypothesis or predictions about what you expect to find in the corpus. Compile a suitable corpus of texts for answering your research questions or create a sub-corpus from an existing corpus (i.e. the BNC). You may use any appropriate method to compile the corpus: downloading texts from the internet, extracting texts from an existing corpus, from a library database (e.g. Lexis Nexis or Gale Newsstand), or scraping tweets from twitter etc. Briefly describe the method you have used to collect the data, the contents of the corpus and its target audience. In an appendix to your essay, add a list or table of primary sources that you have used, indicating for each source its website or bibliographic reference, the number of words in the text, and the type of data it contains. If there are too many sources to list, simply give the first 10. Provide a quantitative and qualitative analysis of your corpus and relate the answers to your research questions and hypotheses. You will probably find the following methods most useful: (i) keywords (derived by comparison with a general ‘reference’ corpus, or by comparing parts of your corpus against each other); (ii) collocations (e.g. collocates of selected keywords); (iii) analysis of concordances (i.e. example sentences) showing typical or atypical patterns of use of selected keywords; (iv) you may, if you wish, additionally annotate your corpus with part-of-speech tags, or semantic tags, and then incorporate these into your analysis. Review your findings: To what extent did the corpus findings show you something you did not already know at the beginning? Referring to previous articles and books in corpus linguistics, and (if possible) in the subject area you are investigating, evaluate the usefulness of the methods and data you have used.

You must use a 12-point font, double spaced and your essay should not exceed 10 pages. This does not include your reference list. Any content that goes over the page limit will not be marked.


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