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UCREL CRS: The Corpus of Historical Singapore English - Practical and Methodological Issues
Date: 26 March 2013 Time: 2.00-3:00 pm
Venue: FASS Meeting Room 3
UCREL Corpus Research Seminar
The Corpus of Historical Singapore English - Practical and Methodological Issues
Sebastian Hoffman (University of Trier)
One of the rapidly expanding areas of corpus-linguistic research is the investigation of post-colonial Englishes such as Indian or Singapore English. However, virtually all projects are currently restricted to synchronic studies of present-day use of the language - for the simple reason that no suitable large-scale historical corpus data is available. As a consequence, it has not yet been possible to trace the development of New Englishes in real time, for example in order to investigate whether the different stages proposed in Schneider's (2007) dynamic model can indeed be confirmed with the help of authentic language data.
The Corpus of Historical Singapore English aims to fill this gap for the post-colonial variety of English that has advanced furthest on Schneider's scale. Once completed, it will cover the years between approx. 1951 and today (with data collected in 10-year intervals), and therefore span a time period that saw English develop from being the language of the ruling elite - i.e. mostly the colonisers and some of those serving them - to becoming the native language of an ever-increasing number of local residents (cf. 2010 Census data -http://www.singstat.gov.sg).
The main emphasis of my talk will be on a number of practical and methodological aspects of corpus compilation that are relevant in the context of representing a language variety whose functions in society and whose speaker-base have changed dramatically with respect to a whole range of parameters (e.g. levels of literacy and education, proportion of speakers in the overall population, use of English in private and public contexts). I will also report on a sub-project that involves the correction of OCR-errors found in electronically available historical newspaper data from Singapore. Finally - time permitting - I will present a small range preliminary findings that are based on an analysis of non-fiction texts from the first two decades of the time period covered by the corpus (i.e. data from approximately 1951 and 1961).
Event website: http://ucrel.lancs.ac.uk/crs
Who can attend: Anyone
Organising departments and research centres: Computing and Communications, Linguistics and English Language, University Centre for Computer Corpus Research on Language (UCREL)
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