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Approaching Language Variation through Corpora

A Festschrift in Honour of Toshio Saito


Edited By 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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GEOFFREY LEECH Foreword - 13


GEOFFREY LEECH Foreword In this book the reader will find a celebration of the achievements of Toshio Saito, pioneer of corpus linguistics in Japan, who took the lead in founding the Japan Association of English Corpus Studies (JAECS). Corpus linguistics has advanced immeasurably since I first met Saito in 1968, early in his career and in mine, when we were both under the tutelage of Randolph Quirk (now Lord Quirk) in the Department of English Language and Literature, University College London (UCL). At that time Saito was spending a year as a visiting student at UCL, while I was a very junior lecturer in the same college. Quirk, as founder and director of the Survey of English Usage at UCL, was then building up his corpus of contemporary English, spoken as well as written. This was a major project which had already attracted international attention, and which in retrospect may be seen as the beginning of the corpus revolution that has transformed the way in which English language research has been carried out in recent dec- ades. Quirk’s corpus (which at first existed only on paper) began a year or two before Nelson Francis at Brown University, USA, initiated the first computerized corpus of English in 1961. Neither Saito nor I were immediately inspired by Quirk’s corpus work to begin our own corpus creation. Nevertheless we must have both caught from Quirk a latent ‘corpus bug’ which came to fruition when our careers had progressed further. I moved to Lancaster...

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