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Approaching Language Variation through Corpora

A Festschrift in Honour of Toshio Saito

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Shunji Yamazaki and Robert Sigley

This book is a collection of papers using samples of real language data (corpora) to explore variation in the use of English. This collection celebrates the achievements of Toshio Saito, a pioneer in corpus linguistics within Japan and founder of the Japan Association for English Corpus Studies (JAECS).
The main aims throughout the collection are to present practical solutions for methodological and interpretational problems common in such research, and to make the research methods and issues as accessible as possible, to educate and inspire future researchers. Together, the papers represent many different dimensions of variation, including: differences in (frequency of) use under different linguistic conditions; differences between styles or registers of use; change over time; differences between regional varieties; differences between social groups; and differences in use by one individual on different occasions. The papers are grouped into four sections: studies considering methodological problems in the use of real language samples; studies describing features of language usage in different linguistic environments in modern English; studies following change over time; and case studies illustrating variation in usage for different purposes, or by different groups or individuals, in society.

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CONTENTS - 5

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Contents Emeritus Professor Toshio Saito .......................................................... 9 GEOFFREY LEECH Foreword ............................................................................................ 13 SHUNJI YAMAZAKI / ROBERT SIGLEY Preface: Approaching Variation ......................................................... 17 Section 1. Evaluating Approaches: Some Methodological Issues STIG JOHANSSON Interpreting Textual Distribution: Social and Situational Factors ........ 25 ROBERT SIGLEY Assessing Corpus Comparability Using a Formality Index: The Case of the Brown/LOB Clones .................................................. 65 SEBASTIAN HOFFMANN / ROBERT SIGLEY Approaching a Linguistic Variable: That-Omission in Mandative Sentences ........................................... 115 Section 2. Descriptions of Synchronic Linguistic Variation GRAEME KENNEDY Semantic Preference of High-Frequency Mental Verbs in the British National Corpus .......................................................... 157 TERUHIKO FUKAYA Functional Variation in Use of Though and When Clauses .............. 181 SHUNJI YAMAZAKI Comparing Adjective Comparison across Genre and Time in Standard Varieties of Modern English ......................................... 203 Section 3. Descriptions of Diachronic Linguistic Variation MATTI RISSANEN On the Occurrence and Variation of the Adverbial Subordination Markers Þe and Þæt in Old English texts ................. 221 TOSHIO SAITO The Syntactic Development of the Gerund in Early Modern English: A Survey Based on the Penn-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Early Modern English .................................................................. 237 YOKO IYEIRI The Verb Pray in Chaucer and Caxton ............................................ 289 SATORU TSUKAMOTO Defining Periods of Middle English by Measuring Rates of Language Change ......................................................................... 307 Section 4. Descriptions of Social and Stylistic Variation PAM PETERS Style and Politeness: The Case of the Personal Pronoun ................. 325 MASAHIRO HORI Approaching Literature as a Corpus: Gender-Based Conversational Styles in Hemingway’s ‘Hills Like White Elephants’ ...................... 347 MARIA STUBBE Active Listening in Conversation: Gender and the Use of Verbal Feedback ......................................... 365 Notes on Contributors ....................................................................... 417

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