The grammar of English is often thought to be stable over time. However a new book, edited by Bas Aarts, Joanne Close, Geoffrey Leech and Sean Wallis, The Verb Phrase in English: investigating recent language change with corpora (Cambridge University Press, 2013) presents a body of research from linguists that shows that using natural language corpora one can find changes within a core element of grammar, the Verb Phrase, over a span of decades rather than centuries.
The book draws from papers first presented at a symposium on the verb phrase organised for the Survey of English Usage’s 50th anniversary and on research from the Changing English Verb Phrase project.
- A methodological range
This collection of corpus linguistics studies offers the reader a range of methodological perspectives from linguists such as Doug Biber, Geoffrey Leech and Mark Davies, who present data in terms of frequencies per million words (pmw), to sociolinguists like Sali Tagliamonte and others who operate in a variationist paradgim, who frame their research questions in terms of probabilities of a particular choice.
Chapter 2, by Bas Aarts, Jo Close and myself, discusses why a focus on choice is to be preferred if possible, while exploring how corpus experimental designs can be refined in a series of steps. Papers were shared between authors and not all concurred, ensuring a lively and occasionally controversial ‘edge’ to some of the contributions. The volume is of interest on the basis of its subject matter, but also as a ‘state of art’ conversation about methodology between contemporary corpus linguists.
- Statistical methods used
Papers employ a number of statistical methods discussed in corp.ling.stats, including:
Wilson score interval
Chi-square type tests
Measures of association
Aarts, B., Close, J, Leech, G. and Wallis, S.A. (eds.) The Verb Phrase in English: Investigating recent language change with corpora. Cambridge: CUP.
- More information
Table of contents and ordering info:
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