Corpus Linguistics in the South 14: Corpus Linguistics and Multilingualism

Birkbeck College, University of London, 4th of March 2017

On Saturday, March 4th, I had an exciting opportunity to present my work in progress at Corpus Linguistics in the South event which focused on aspects of multilingual corpus linguistics. Multilingual here meant not only use of corpora in multiple languages but also possible applications of corpus linguistics methods to research multilingualism. The range of papers presented at the event demonstrated the broadness of this field of study.

A number of talks focused on uses of parallel corpora in comparative language studies that successfully implement computer software to exemplify language patterns and demonstrate their significance statistically. There were also interesting studies of representations (ex. of animals) that used multilingual corpora to study cultural differences in representations. Uses of corpora for translation studies focused on such challenging topics as researching idioms across languages and how this research is immensely helpful in translation practice.

Excellent plenary talks were also delivered at the event. Dr Charlotte Taylor focused on comparison across corpora of different languages in researching social phenomena like, for example, ‘community’ and how in different linguistic and cultural contexts such notions acquire different meanings. Research of this kind also involves multiple challenges, for instance, whether the researched term means the same thing when translated from English to other languages. Dr Dawn Knight discussed the ongoing project which aims to create a national corpus of Welsh language and the challenges it poses on the researchers. She also referred to how the corpus can be used by speakers of Welsh in the future. However, even now on the data collection stage the project has motivated people to speak the language with help of mobile applications. This project is particularly exciting and innovative as its experience can be applied for creating corpora for other minoritised languages.

I also had a chance to meet and receive feedback on my work from Dr. Mike Scott, the author of WordSmith Tools software.

As to my own presentation, it was a great pleasure to present to a highly expert audience: there were 48 participants from 28 different institutions! I received some useful questions and comments that gave me food for thought. These included ideas on how I can improve my research and what new directions I might take in further exploring my data. I would like to thank Dr Rachelle Vessey for organising this event and ECLS for making my trip to London possible.

Written by Hanna Sliashynskaya, 1st years PhD candidate in Applied Linguistics in the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University.