The Serial Comma—The Language Debate Society SpecGram Vol CXCII, No 4 Contents It Is Interesting to Note: Best Practices for Scholarly Writing in All Disciplines—Gabriel Lanyi

The Daughters of Corpus Linguistics

Lexi Cal, Anna-Lee Ziss

Corpus linguistics has enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity ever since being discovered on the hard drive of a ZX Spectrum in an alleyway behind the Text Miner’s pub in Nantwich in 1984. Since then it has gone on to infiltrate pretty much every area of linguistics, from challenging the authorship of some of the alleged letters of the apostle Paul to legitimising quirky 20,000-page usage-based grammars of English.

But more than that, due to its association with computational techniques, corpus linguistics can also be considered the coolest subdiscipline of linguistics: corpus linguists are regularly seen jet setting between Monaco and Las Vegas, driving high-end sports cars, wearing shades and sporting luxury brand accessories. Only a tiny minority are grey-sweatered, introverted academics who mumble about part-of-speech-tagging and statistical probing.

However, perhaps the most fascinating aspect of corpus linguistics is that it has generated an abundance of subfields. We thought it time to collect some of these together (after which we will copy and paste them into a computer and find out which words occur more frequently than others).

Corpus linguistics: A high-octane subdiscipline of linguistics preoccupied with playing join-the-dots with long lists of words. Only suitable for linguists with a relentless eagerness for risk and danger.

Coypus Linguistics: The study of the utterances of large, semi-aquatic rodents.

Core Puss linguistics: Transcripts from the meetings of a certain clandestine feline endeavour to build abdominal strength and stability.

Corpse linguistics: This term has been claimed by scholars of two subfields:

The disputes between these two schools of thought (or remnants of thought) have become the subject matter of a number of documentaries, many of which have been reviewed under the rubric of horror films.

Cow pie linguistics:

Carpool linguistics: Investigation of the phraseological norms of the discourse of “colleagues” on their way to work and thither as they attempt to hide their contempt for each other behind safe but moronic small-talk.

Coopers’ linguistics: The study of the statistically significant speech patterns among members of the professional community of artisans of casks, vats, etc. Never wooden, Coopers’ linguistics is known for being a barrel of laughs; coopers’ linguists never chicken out.

Keepers’ linguistics: A collection of spoken exclamations, imperatives, and blame-deflecting utterances drawn from goalkeepers of professional football.

Crêpe linguistics: The study of the sounds made by pancakes when they are being prepared, such as the various types of sizzles and splats. The field has made strides in using pancake preparation data from many cultures to advance groundbreaking theories as to the conceptual Ur-Pancake that underlies all culturally specific realizations of pancakes.

Crepuscular linguistics: The analysis of token and type occurrences in texts about the early evening.

Corpuscle linguistics: The sociolinguistic study of phlebotomists’ jargon.

Corpsicle linguistics: The discourse analysis of cryonic advertising.

Corrupts linguistics: The study of the effects of absolute powera.k.a. Chomsky’s Reign of Terroron linguistics.

Cardophagus linguistics: The study of rare synonyms for the Rocky Mountain canary.

“Keep us, oh Lord …” linguistics: The study of the textual-functional make-up of prayers. Key findings include that self-referential requests for personal wellbeing and material goodies occur significantly more than petitions regarding the ecological crisis or socioeconomic inequalities.

Chorus linguistics: The study of how people pronounce phones in choral music. This is a challenging field to research, since it is virtually impossible to tell what choral singers are saying during performance.

Cops linguistics: The study of utterances made through police radios.

Corps Linguistics: The study of communications within military units.

Corporal linguistics: Punishing the prose of the junior ranks of the army by making them study lexico-statistics.

Cat poop linguistics: The investigation of the most common intonation patterns used by cat owners when finding that Tibs has done its business on the rug again.

K-pop linguistics: The analysis of the patterns of dance moves performed by Korean boy- and girl-bands. Research findings are remarkably homogeneous with “step forward”, “step backward” and “step to the side” being the most frequently occurring patterns, all of which collocate strongly with “artificial and obviously pained juvenile smile”.

The Serial CommaThe Language Debate Society
It Is Interesting to Note: Best Practices for Scholarly Writing in All DisciplinesGabriel Lanyi
SpecGram Vol CXCII, No 4 Contents