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date: 10 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the potential of natural language corpora for grammatical research. The chapter distinguishes three main types of data (evidence) that a corpus can provide: factual evidence, frequency evidence, and interaction evidence. The chapter makes the research case for parsing a corpus completely, correcting the annotation by human linguists. It uses the cyclic ‘3A’ perspective (Nelson et al. 2002) to relate a series of exploratory algorithms and tools relevant to the grammatical researcher, including concordancing tools, grammatical exploration tools, and bottom-up generalization algorithms. The aim is not merely to describe what is found in a corpus but to perform systematic ‘natural experiments’. The rich grammatical analysis of a parsed corpus gains a new role: in reliably obtaining examples of grammatical units within which research may be conducted. The chapter concludes with a discussion of some simple experiments, and the methodological issues that arise in carrying them out.

Keywords: corpora, parsing, exploration, experimentation, science

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