Contemporary Corpus Linguistics

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Five collocates belong to the semantic field of politics nation, politics, movement, activists, activism ; five others to the academic realm theory, studies, theorists, history, theorist ; three collocates can be grouped together under the category art accessories, cinema, art. In terms of notable absences, queerness does not seem to be conceptualised as a characteristic of sexual partners, and it is remarkable that it is also not conceptualised as a practice or something that is done, even though it is the only one of the eight adjectives that can also be used as a verb to queer something.

To summarise the most common patterns: queerness is mainly conceptualised as an identity, as the making politics in the name of this identity, and as a matter of academic discussion. For the adjective gay, the category identity is most strongly represented 8 collocates , followed by relationship 6 collocates and gender 5 collocates.

Among the gendered collocates one finds exclusively male nouns, which indicates that lesbian sexualities are not really covered by the lexically gender-neutral form gay. In other words, gay has a strong male social gender bias. Another substantially represented category with 7 collocates is again politics rights, activists, pride, activist, issues, bashing, liberation.

The categories practice, partner and desire occur only once or not at all. The meaning potential of gay is thus both similar to and different from that queer, as it covers relationship and gender in addition to identity and politics.

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Judging from these findings, gayness is mainly conceptualised as something that people are, as something that can be politicised, as a sexual relationship type and as a particular type of masculinity. The adjective lesbian has most collocates in the category identity 10 collocates , followed by relationship 5 collocates and gender 4 collocates.

It is apparent that within these three categories one finds a number of family-related terms parents, families, mothers, daughter, mother , which indicates that the notion of the family plays an important role in the construction of lesbian identities and relationships. An additional important category is again that of politics rights, alliance, activists, feminist, issues.

The categories academia, partner and practice are only marginally represented, desire occurs not at all. Overall, the collocational profile of lesbian is similar to that of gay in that identity, relationship, gender and politics play prominent roles in both. Not surprisingly, the gender category shows exclusively female nouns for lesbian.

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Taken together, this means that lesbianness is mostly represented as an identity, as a field of political activity, as a type of sexual relationship and as a particular form of femininity. The adjective homosexual exhibits a broad applicability range, with five categories being represented by four collocates or more. The most prominent categories are practice and identity both 7 collocates , relationship 6 collocates , and desire 4 collocates. This is the first adjective for which practice and desire play a central role.

The category partner is not represented.

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In other words, homosexual covers almost the entire range of common sexuality- related concepts except for the domain partner. While identity was the most commonly used category for queer, gay and lesbian, homosexual is equally commonly associated with practices. In comparison to gay and lesbian, the relatively limited representation of gender is noteworthy. In the few cases where it co-occurs with gendered nouns, these are male, which suggests a socially male bias similar as for gay. For the term same-sex, the relationship category is highly dominant, with a total of 17 collocates.

Desire and practice are also commonly represented, but clearly less frequently 4 collocates each. The categories partner and identity are only marginally represented. Gender is completely absent from the collocate list, and there are also no additional categories that emerge. In a way, same-sex is the form among the eight adjectives that is least likely to collocate with identity-related categories i.

The adjective heterosexual has the highest concentration in the category relationship 7 collocates , but identity and gender are similarly important 6 collocates each. Practice is also well represented with 5 collocates. Interestingly, the category sexual disease emerges as a minor additional category with 2 collocates transmission, AIDS. This is remarkable, because HIV infection is stereotypically rather connected to gay men than to heterosexual people, and suggests that heterosexual HIV infection is perceived as the marked case that needs to be explicated.

It is also noteworthy that the gender category shows the highest number of collocates of all adjectives so far, which indicates that heterosexuality is more strongly connected to gender binarism than the other labels. With respect to the categories of sexual relevance, the adjective straight exclusively shows male collocates from the gender category man, men, guy. Other sexually relevant categories do not surface in the top 30 collocates of straight, probably because its non-sexual meanings a straight line, a straight answer etc are dominant overall.

Still it is noteworthy that, judging from these collocational data, straightness in general seems to be a characteristic that is associated with men and not with women, that is, the adjective exhibits a similar male social gender bias as gay and homosexual. This in turn suggests that men are in general more likely to be represented in terms of their sexual orientation or sexual identity. Finally, the term bisexual shows a strong leaning towards identity 14 collocates , and smaller focal points on gender 6 collocates and practice 4 collocates.

Desire is only marginally represented. Within the identity category, it is evident that age seems to be a crucial factor in the discursive construction of bisexuality, as one finds various nouns denoting young people youth, youths, teens, adolescents and only one denoting adults adults. The centrality of young social actors suggests that bisexuality is commonly conceptualised as a phase that young people may go through.

The overlapping common usage patterns of the eight adjectives are visualised in Figure 1, which shows categories represented by at least 4 collocates among the top 30 collocates of a given adjective except for straight, for which gender is indicated as the only collocate category : Figure 1: Conceptual map of sexual descriptive adjectives, based on collocation analysis of COCA data Most significantly from a queer linguistic point of view, the picture that emerges in Figure 1 is anything but binary.

It shows overlaps and specificities in the collocational usage patterns of the eight sexual descriptive adjectives, thus providing evidence of both similarities and differences alike. In terms of prototypicality, the categories identity, gender, relationship and practice turn out to be central aspects covered by most sexual descriptive adjectives, while desire, academia and politics are restricted to smaller subsets of adjectives.

Somewhat surprisingly, the category sexual partner is not central to any of the adjectives and thus does not occur in Figure 1. Another remarkable fact is that the category desire only commonly occurs with two of the eight adjectives. However, this would be a misleading interpretation, because sexual desire can be expressed by many other linguistic means apart from sexual descriptive adjectives, which have a stronger leaning towards the identity pole.

The smaller role that desire plays in the nominal collocates of the eight adjectival labels, therefore, rather suggests that identity and desire conceptualisations may not go together that well. Figures 2 and 3 present the same picture as Figure 1, but for smaller groups of adjectives. The three sexualities that at least partially involve female-male interaction heterosexual, straight, bisexual are presented in Figure 2, the remaining five sexualities in Figure 3. Figure 2: Conceptual map of heterosexual, straight and bisexual, based on collocation analysis of COCA data Among the three adjectives in Figure 2, heterosexual shows the broadest range of application, spanning across the four prototypical categories identity, gender, relationship and practice.

Bisexual is similar, but lacks an association with relationship. The adjective straight is exclusively associated with gender.


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Note that all three sexualities are connected to gender. It is also noteworthy that, according to the collocation data, these three sexualities are apparently not deemed worth of explicit academic discussion or political activism. For heterosexual and straight, this probably has to do with the default status of these sexualities. A similar point can be made about the absence of connections to the category desire. Maybe desire is by default taken to be heterosexual desire, so that such an explication is in most contexts not felt to be necessary. Bisexuality, on the other hand, rather seems to be denied the status of a legitimate desire see also Thorne Figure 3: Conceptual map of homosexual, gay, lesbian, same-sex and queer, based on collocation analysis of COCA data As can be seen in Figure 3, the five remaining non-heterosexual labels show a broader range of associations.

The adjectives gay and lesbian exhibit identical application ranges identity, gender, relationship and politics , with the gender category being female for lesbian and male for gay. Despite their asymmetrical genderisation lesbian is lexically gendered; gay is lexically gender-neutral but strongly socially gendered , they seem to be used in a fairly parallel fashion along gender lines.

Reference to sexual practices and desires is restricted to the adjectives homosexual and same-sex. The form same-sex shows the most idiosyncratic pattern in this group, because it does not cover gender, identity and politics, in contrast to the other four adjectives. What makes queer special is its additional connection with the academic realm. Note that three of the five adjectives in this group queer, homosexual, same-sex have no strong connection to gender.

Maybe its associations with desire and practice are a more recent phenomenon — a question that future research should explore. Another reason may be that the use of homosexual as an identity label is still blocked to some extent by the pathological connotations of the word, which would explain why also other conceptualisations than identity play a prominent role in the usage patterns of this adjective. Conclusion: Looking ahead If we take the queer in queer linguistics seriously, the analytical focus of our research will be such that it enables us to take a critical view at the discursive mechanisms that contribute to the formation of sexuality and its normative regimes, including sexual identities, relationships, practices and desires.

As the collocational analysis above has shown, a strong case can be made for identity-centered studies, but these need to be done in ways that do not further entrench dominant binary identity discourses. The documentation of identities that are traditionally considered non-normative plays a crucial role in this respect.


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  6. Throwing a critical analytic light on how these identities are publicly represented via language is a legitimate and useful procedure, as it is likely to highlight aspects about the social perception of these identities that may be deemed ethically questionable for example, a biased, negative, discriminating, stigmatising, stereotypical, incorrect, heteronormative, sexist or homophobic representation. However, as pointed out by Milani — , a mere rhetoric of sexual tolerance or a promotion of the linguistic visibility of non-heterosexualities may not be sufficient for queer linguistic purposes.

    More thorough and ontologically oriented ways of resistance to the dominant sexual discursive regimes are necessary if queer linguistics is to distinguish itself from an LGBT-oriented linguistics. When we contemplate which kinds of corpus linguistic studies have the highest queer linguistic potential as far as de-essentialisation is concerned, it is probably studies that focus on language use in sexualised communication or communication about sexuality see category c in Section 2. This is the case because they do not necessarily take identity categories like lesbian woman, gay man, heterosexual woman or heterosexual man as starting points.

    An unreflected, traditional use of corpus linguistics is bound to possess only a limited de-stabilising and de-essentialising potential.

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    They need to study the discursive construction of sexuality using non-binary and de- essentialising research designs. And they need to incorporate infrequent or formally absent phenomena indexing minoritised and silenced sexuality discourses in their analysis. It is self-evident that corpus linguistics necessarily has to work with categories of some kind, otherwise quantification is not possible. The central question for queer linguists thus becomes which categories they can use as entry points for their research without sacrificing their theoretical convictions.

    If our main objective is to highlight damaging discourses in the public representation of LGBT or heterosexual subjects, using these identity categories as the basis for our studies can be a useful strategy. But when the goal of our studies is somewhat more on the de-essentialising or deconstructing queer linguistic side, it may be more useful to start our analysis from alternative sexuality-related categories, so that sexual identity categories are not automatically taken for granted or reinscribed. At the linguistic level, potentially relevant categories are, for example, verbs and verbal constructions that are used to express sexual practices or desires, body-part nouns and adjectives denoting physical features and their eroticisation , or linguistic means of expressing sexual normativities see also Motschenbacher , , forthcoming a.

    The research design of the analysis carried out in this article was an attempt to approach sexual categories in a non-binary fashion, highlighting partial overlaps in the central conceptual categories sexual labels are associated with and systematically incorporating notable absences in the analysis.

    One limitation of the present study is that a collocation analysis can only cover word combinations that occur unusually frequently. This means that minority patterns and absences, that is, features that may play a role in the construction of marginalised and silenced non- normative sexuality discourses, could not be grasped in full. A co-occurrence analysis as performed in Motschenbacher forthcoming b seems to be better equipped for this purpose and may therefore fruitfully be employed in tandem with collocation analysis, to provide a richer picture of what can be found in the data.

    This picture can be further enhanced through an analysis of concordance lines, which yields insights into how certain collocations or co- occurrences are used for example, in a positive or negative fashion. Another aspect that may be viewed as a limitation is that a very narrow window span was used in the collocation analysis. This procedure is legitimated by an effort to increase precision rates, that is, to make sure that a noun following a sexual descriptive adjective is in fact a head noun that is modified by the adjective. Future research may wish to explore whether the collocational patterns identified in the present study also hold for larger window spans.

    If such a notion could be operationalised, this would be another way in which absences could be more systematically integrated in the analysis. The other articles in this special issue present and reflect on corpus linguistic analyses that explore the relationship between language and sexuality in novel ways. Laura Paterson and Laura Coffey-Glover triangulate analyses of keywords, semantic keyness and concordance lines to draw a multi-dimensional picture of the discourses connected to same- sex marriage manifesting themselves in a corpus of UK-based newspaper articles.

    Lexi Webster analyses discursive practices of self-sexualisation in a corpus of biography texts produced by various groups of gender-variant Twitter users. Angela Zottola focuses on the discursive construction of trans people in the UK press, using analyses of frequency lists, collocations and concordances to study representational practices.

    Farnham: Ashgate. Aull, Laura L. Fighting words. A corpus analysis of gender representations in sports reportage. Corpora 8 1 : 27— Bachmann, Ingo. A corpus-driven analysis of discourses of same-sex relationships in the UK Parliament. Corpora 6 1 : 77— Baker, Paul. London: Routledge. Querying keywords: Questions of difference, frequency, and sense in keywords analysis. Journal of English Linguistics 32 4 : — Journal of Sociolinguistics 8 1 : 88— Public Discourses of Gay Men. Using Corpora in Discourse Analysis. London: Continuum. Corpus linguistics, gender and language. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Will Ms ever be as frequent as Mr? A corpus-based comparison of gendered terms across four diachronic corpora of British English.

    Gender and Language 4 1 : — Discourse and gender. Corpora and gender studies. From gay language to normative discourse. A diachronic corpus analysis of Lavender Linguistics conference abstracts — Journal of Language and Sexuality 2 2 : — Using Corpora to Analyze Gender. London: Bloomsbury. Two hundred years of the American man. Milani ed , 34— New York: Routledge. Gendered discourses. A useful methodological synergy? Combining critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics to examine discourses of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK press.

    Picking the right cherries? A comparison of corpus-based and qualitative analyses of news articles about masculinity. Gender and Language 10 1 : — Barbieri, Federica. Older men and younger women. A corpus-based study of quotative use in American English. English World-Wide 28 1 : 23— Barrett, Rusty. The emergence of the unmarked: Queer theory, language ideology, and formal linguistics.

    Currency and addition of Tax VAT depend on your shipping address. An analysis of lexical text coverage in contemporary German in Corpus linguistics around the world. Author: Randall L. Add to Cart.

    Contemporary Corpus Linguistics - Research Portal | Lancaster University

    Have an Access Token? Enter your access token to activate and access content online. Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token. Have Institutional Access? Forgot your password? Abstract One of the many practical applications of corpus studies is the generation of word frequency information. Hayo Reinders. Vivian J. Marina Lambrou.

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    Christopher Hart. Antonio Fabregas. Helen Ringrow. Home Contact us Help Free delivery worldwide. Free delivery worldwide. Bestselling Series. Harry Potter. Popular Features. New Releases. Contemporary Corpus Linguistics. Description This title acts as a one-volume resource, providing an introduction to every aspect of corpus linguistics as it is being used at the moment. Corpus linguistics uses large electronic databases of language to examine hypotheses about language use.


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    4. These can be tested scientifically with computerised analytical tools, without the researcher's preconceptions influencing their conclusions. For this reason, corpus linguistics is a popular and expanding area of study. Written by internationally renowned linguists, this volume of seventeen introductory chapters aims to provide a snapshot of the field of corpus linguistics.


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