Until recently students of language had to rely on what they could see or hear. Since the average individual encounters over 100,000 words every day the amount of text they experienced was much greater than they could recall at any one moment.
The advent of the electronic corpus changed all that. Now hundreds of millions of words can be read by a computer in a few seconds, and an increasing range of questions can be asked from an automatic source.
The result is a transformation of our understanding of language, and a major change in the methods used in language study.
The key skill in this new utopia is to be able to interrogate the corpus efficiently ¿ to ask the right sort of questions, to refine the first responses and to control the retrieval process so as to reveal the way in which meaning and pattern interact in text. Much of this skill comes just from experience, and this book is the first step in acquiring the experience.
This book has specifically been written as a textbook for people who want to find out how to use a corpus in language work. It is written in a non-technical way and offers tasks in a step-by-step presentation.