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Approaching Language Variation through Corpora

A Festschrift in Honour of Toshio Saito


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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TOSHIO SAITO The Syntactic Development of the Gerund in Early ModernEnglish: A Survey Based on the Penn-Helsinki Parsed Corpusof Early Modern English - 237


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 1. Introduction1 1.1. The aim of the present paper Soon after the completion of the epoch-making Helsinki Corpus of English Texts (henceforth, HC), I explored the corpus and published a paper (Saito 1993) on the variant constructions of the gerund preceded or followed by its logical object in Early Modern English (henceforth, EModE). The conclusion of the paper was that in general the evidence yielded by the HC gave a reliable outline of development of the syn- tactic feature under investigation, proving the corpus a reliable and useful tool for diachronic studies of English. The compilers of the HC, a team led by Matti Rissanen, however, admitting that the corpus with 1.6 million words might be “too small for the purposes of many diachronic studies with past synchrony as their starting point” for the long time span of the history of English, promised to offer an expanded version in five years or so (Kytö/Rissanen 1993: 2). The expansion with annotation of the HC was accomplished (though ultimately by other research groups) in 2004 with the comple- tion of the Penn-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Early Modern English (PPCEME, 1.7 million words), following such expanded versions as 1 I should like to express my sincere gratitude to Shunji Yamazaki and Robert Sigley for their invaluable comments and suggestions on an earlier draft, and to Junsaku Nakamura for...

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