Evidence from Multi-Dimensional Analysis and Corpora
Chapter 2 The Making of: Methodology and Data 47
47 Chapter 2 The Making of: Methodology and Data 2.1 Introduction The present study advocates a data-oriented description of language through computer analyses, and investigates meaning as function in context. In corpus investigations, one of the very first decisions is to determine the unit of analysis. This unit is typically one of two kinds: either a single text, if the goal of the research is to distinguish a type of text from a group of texts, or a linguistic feature, if the research aims to describe single linguistic features in texts. In the first case, each “obser- vation” (i. e. the unit of analysis) is a text, whereas in the second, each observation is an occurrence of the structure in question (Biber, Conrad, and Reppen 1998: 269). This book uses both kinds of units of analysis: the text, or rather the texts from American face-to-face and movie con- versation, and the linguistic features characterizing them. To measure the observation and to carry out a number of quanti- tative and qualitative analyses, it is necessary to code a large sample of constructions and to consider each occurrence as a separate obser- vation (Biber, Conrad, and Reppen 1998). In order to do so, a cor- pus and a software program are required. The former contains, for in- stance, the occurrences of the linguistic feature under examination and consequent information on its frequency and pragmatic functions, while the latter helps retrieve them. The data in this book come from the Longman Spoken American...
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