Language, computers & statistics: not just for geeks corpus linguistics in the a level classroom

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Glossary of corpus linguistics terminology used here

SALT 2019: “Language, computers & statistics: not just for geeks - corpus linguistics in the A level classroom”
Exercise 1: Exploring corpus linguistics with CQPWeb (
Once you are logged in and have selected the BNC (XML) corpus on CQPWeb, have a go at completing the following activities. You will find it useful to keep notes on your findings.
These activities get you to experience how the CQPWeb interface works as well as give you some ideas that you can use in the classroom when teaching every A level student’s favourite topic, Language & Gender.


Task explanation:


Keep the settings as they are on the Standard Query page and in the search box, type the word ‘man’ (without speech marks). Then click “Start Query” button. What you will get is a concordance of the token ‘man’.
Make a note of the frequency per million of this token (top of the concordance).


Concordance of ‘man’:
Hover with the cursor over any of the instances of the word underlined bold blue ‘man’ in the concordance.
What do you notice?
What do you think the underscore followed by capital letter code refers to?

Click on any of the instances of the underlined bold blue ‘man’ – what happens? Why do you think this is included as a function for a concordance?


Collocations of ‘man’ – standard procedure:
Scroll down the screen until you are at the bottom of the first page of the concordance for ‘man’. Near the bottom on the right there is a box with a pull down menu entitled: ‘choose action’.
Click on this and select ‘collocations’.
This takes you to a new menu where you can set the parameters for the collocation calculation. Leave everything as it is and click on the ‘create collocation database’ button. This calculation may take a few minutes to complete.
Once you have your results, make a note of the following:

  • What are the top 10 collocates according to this for ‘man’?

  • Statistic (top right in the grey box):

This gives you the statistical measure used to calculate this particular collocation measure for ‘man’.
Look at your top 10 collocates for ‘man’ – what do you notice? What are your initial thoughts?

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