Douglas E Biber, Randi Reppen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Corpus linguistics is a research approach that facilitates empirical investigations of language variation and use, resulting in research findings that have much greater generalizability and validity than would otherwise be feasible. Studies carried out under the umbrella of corpus linguistics share certain research goals and distinctive analytical characteristics: – they are empirical, analyzing the actual patterns of use in natural texts;– they are based on analysis of a large and principled collection of natural texts, known as a ‘corpus’; the corpus is evaluated for the extent to which it represents a target domain of language use;– they make extensive use of computers for analysis, employing both automatic and interactive techniques; – they depend on both quantitative and qualitative analytical techniques. Corpus linguistics differs from other “hyphenated” areas of inquiry, such as sociolinguistics or psycholinguistics, in that it is not a theoretical subdiscipline of linguistics. That is, the prefixed element in hyphenated subdisciplines identifies the theoretical domain of inquiry: “socio-linguistics” is the study of language in relation to social factors; “psycho-linguistics” is the study of linguistic behavior in relation to psychological processes. But no such relation holds for “corpus linguistics.” Rather, the distinctive characteristic of corpus linguistics is the claim that it is possible to actually “represent” a domain of language use with a corpus of texts, and possible to empirically describe linguistic patterns of use through analysis of that corpus. Any research question relating to linguistic variation and use can be approached from this methodological perspective. This view of corpus linguistics is not universally accepted. For example, Stubbs (1993: 23-24) argues that “a corpus is not merely a tool of linguistic analysis but an important concept in linguistic theory,” and Teubert (2005: 2) describes corpus linguistics as “a theoretical approach to the study of language.” However, this is a minority view, with most scholars focusing on the methodological strengths of corpus linguistics rather than treating it as a theoretical subdiscipline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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