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Corpus Analysis for Descriptive and Pedagogical Purposes

ESP Perspectives


Maurizio Gotti and Davide S. Giannoni

There is hardly any aspect of verbal communication that has not been investigated using the analytical tools developed by corpus linguists. This is especially true in the case of English, which commands a vast international research community, and corpora are becoming increasingly specialised, as they account for areas of language use shaped by specific sociolectal (register, genre, variety) and speaker (gender, profession, status) variables.
Corpus analysis is driven by a common interest in ‘linguistic evidence’, viewed as a source of insights into language phenomena or of lexical, semantic and contrastive data for subsequent applications. Among the latter, pedagogical settings are highly prominent, as corpora can be used to monitor classroom output, raise learner awareness and inform teaching materials.
The eighteen chapters in this volume focus on contexts where English is employed by specialists in the professions or academia and debate some of the challenges arising from the complex relationship between linguistic theory, data-mining tools and statistical methods.
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Corpus Query Techniques for Investigating Citation in Student Assignments: Hilary Nesi



Corpus Query Techniques for Investigating Citation in Student Assignments


Citation is a distinctive feature of many forms of specialised discourse, especially in academic contexts. At the most basic level, academic writers need to acknowledge sources in order to avoid accusations of plagiarism (Pecorari 2006), and need to be conversant with the mechanics of the referencing system appropriate to their field and the genres they produce: generally the Harvard (author-date) and/or the Vancouver (author-number) system. They may also have to choose between integral and non-integral referencing formats, and to adopt appropriate rhetorical strategies to situate their claims. These are more complex skills, as noted by Hyland (2002), Bloch (2010) and many others.

Given the amount there is to be learnt about citation, it is not surprising that university students often take some time to acquire appropriate referencing skills, even if they have had an English-medium school education and have entered higher education via the more traditional route. However, students who have not previously been exposed to academic texts in English, especially speakers of other languages, are likely to have particular problems citing sources. The very notion of intellectual ‘ownership’ may be a new and alien concept for them (Pennycook 1996), and they may assume that it is unnecessary to acknowledge sources if their lecturers already know what has been written on the subject, and what students have been recommended to read. Quite high-level reading and writing skills are necessary to...

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