Readings, tools, and useful links for corpus analysis

This post originally appeared on the blog In My Own Terms and it is republished with permission.

The following list is a result of collaboration by participants of Lancaster’s recent MOOC on Corpus Linguistics. This is a selection of the links that I considered more relevant for those who might want to start exploring this field. If you want to share other links, feel free to add a comment or send me a message and I will add it here. I will keep you posted on the next CL course by Lancaster University. This post complements previous posts on corpora lists, GraphColl, and AntConc.

Readings

An Introduction of Corpus Linguistics – G. Bennet

Corpus Linguistics: What It Is and How It Can Be Applied to Teaching – D. Krieger

Corpus Linguistics 2015. Abstract book – F. Formato and A. Hardie (Lancaster:UCREL)

Corpus annotation – R. Garside, G. Leech, T. McEnery

A critical look at software tools in corpus linguistics – L. Anthony

Corpora and Language Teaching: Just a fling or wedding bells? – C. Gabrielatos

Books

Sociolinguistics and Corpus Linguistics – P. Baker

Using Corpora in Discourse Analysis

Google book: Corpus-based Translation Studies – S. Laviosa

Google book: Corpus-based translation studies: Research and Applications – A. Kruger, K. Wallmach, J. Munday

Tools

Antconc

Concordance Software

Intellitext

Monoconc

SketchEngine

SkELL is a free online, stripped down version of the Sketch Engine corpus query software. It allows very simple searches for words which will produce a word sketch to show the grammatical and collocational behavior of the word. It also produces a list of similar words and the regular concordance lines. One of our tutors in Lancaster’s MOOC, Keith Barrs, wrote an article on how to use this tool (from page 6).

WebCorp. Concordance the web in real-time

Wmatrix is a software tool for corpus analysis and comparison.

Corpora

The SILS Learner Corpus of English is a collection of essays by students at SILS, the School of International Liberal Studies at Waseda University.

Translational English Corpus (TEC) is a corpus of contemporary translational English: it consists of written texts translated into English from a variety of source languages, European and non-European

The Collins Corpus is an analytical database of English with over 4.5 billion words. It contains written material from websites, newspapers, magazines and books published around the world, and spoken material from radio, TV and everyday conversations.

CORPUS. The Open Parallel Corpus is a growing collection of translated texts from the web.

Natural Language Toolkit. is a leading platform for building Python programs to work with human language data. It provides easy-to-use interfaces to over 50 corpora and lexical resources such as WordNet, along with a suite of text processing libraries for classification, tokenization, stemming, tagging, parsing, and semantic reasoning, wrappers for industrial-strength NLP libraries, and an active discussion forum.

WordBanks Online is an online corpus service offering you the chance to tap into the unique resources of the Collins Word Web, on which the highly successful range of Collins dictionaries is based.

Lancaster Corpus of Children’s Project Writing is a digitized collection of project work produced by children aged between 9 and 11.

For corpora in other languages visit Corpus Linguitics and Morphology of Humbolt-Universität zu Berlin, and lemmatization lists in several languages at lexiconista.com

Other useful and interesting links

Corpus linguistics community in Google

List of Corpus Software, Tools, Frequency Lists, etc.

Tools and websites by Corpora4Learning

ICAME Journal. This is published once a year (in the spring) with articles, conference reports, reviews and notices related to corpus linguistics. Each issue is about 150 pages and there have been 36 issues published.

The British Sign Language Corpus Project by the Economic & Social Research Council

A (brief) History of Computarized Corpus Tools by Mura Nava using TimeMapper

Articles in Spanish

Lingüística de corpus: una introducción al ámbito – G. Parodi
Lingüística de corpus y lingüística del español – Guillermo Rojo

Introducción al análisis de estructuras lingüísticas en corpus – M. Alcántara Plá
Hacia una definición del concepto de colocación – J. R. Firth, a I.A. Mel’cuk, by M. Alonso Ramos
Diseño de corpus textuales y orales by Torruella y Llisterri

Sobre la construcción de diccionarios basados en corpus – G. Rojo

Compilación de un corpus ad hoc para la enseñanza de la traducción inversa especializada – G. Corpas

El corpus lingüístico en la didáctica del léxico en el aula – E. Alonso

For corpora in Spanish, visit my page TermFinder (Corpora EN+ES section)

Author bio

Patricia Brenes is the owner of the blog http://inmyownterms.com/. Originally from Costa Rica, she moved to Washington in 2000 to work for an international organization. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Specialized Translation at the Universitat de Vic in Barcelona and is a Certified Terminology Manager (ECQA-TermNet). Her blog collects useful information on theory and practice, as well as infographics, biographies, interviews, tools, and much more.

Corpus analysis: The Ugly Duckling of Translation

Not long ago, hearing the term “corpus linguistics” made me shriek; after all, it was something that only linguists in academia did, right? So, when I signed up for a course, I was not fully convinced that I would learn something that I could truly put into practice. However, by the end of the course, I had concluded that corpus analysis is the Ugly Duckling of Translation.

Before you get to know it, it looks ugly and worthless, but as your relationship deepens, you start seeing the beauty of it. And don’t take my word for it; others have seen it too. Take my husband, for example, a freelancer translator with all the best tools. He had also heard about corpus analysis; he knew that learning how to analyze corpus might be useful, but he had not taken the time to do it. Once I showed him how easy it was to do searches, he was immediately hooked. He even built a huge corpus from his legal and oil & gas documentation, which are his specializations. Recently, after a 10-minute introduction to a colleague, she said: “OMG, where has this been all my life!”

If you haven’t been overcome by this feeling yet, I am willing to bet that you are still looking at the Ugly Duckling from the outside. But I am sure I can convince you in the next few paragraphs by showing you the face of a cute little swan. There are three easy steps to start believing.

The first step: Decide which tool you want to use. AntConc, Wordsmith, and Sketch Engine are some of the top names in the market. All of them are great tools. But you can start with AntConc (free) to take your first steps and then take advantage of the free trials and play with the others to pick your favorite. Of course, you could stick to using online corpus such as COCA, BNC, BNCweb, etc., and maybe that’s enough for you, but why not build your own corpus that can be controlled and expanded endlessly and effortlessly!

The second step is collecting your corpus and converting it to .txt files. Nothing easier! Create a folder with subfolders on your computer. For example, if you translate documents on energy, you can have two main folders, renewable and nonrenewable; then, inside the renewable folder, you may have wind energy, solar energy, bioenergy, etc. Why is this folder division important? Because sometimes you might be looking for a general term on renewable energy, but other times you only want to search in your documentation on solar energy, which could make your searches faster. If you are just starting out, don’t worry about the number of documents in the beginning, just make sure they are representative of the topic you are working with to make sure you get useful results. You can add more documents as you get the hang of it. Just remember: Quality over quantity!

Corpus analysis tools only accept .txt files, but you can find free software that can do this for you in a matter of seconds, including the collection of cute little tools provided by the creator of AntConc, Dr. Laurence Anthony. AntFileConverter and EncodeAnt help you convert PDF and Word files into .txt, and .txt files into UTF-8 files, respectively (“stubborn” .txt files that the tool may not recognize might need that extra step of conversion to UFT-8 files). The conversion takes seconds, even for a large number of documents.

The third step is getting training, free training, that is. I know what you’re thinking: That’s going to take a long time. Wrong! Take AntConc, for example, Dr. Anthony has a collection of 5 to 10-minute videos that explain every function clearly. The fact that they are short suggests that it doesn’t take long to understand how the software works. By the way, when I say “software” I am actually referring to a downloadable file. It can’t get any easier than that! If you are just starting out, don’t get overwhelmed. First, play with the concordance tool until you feel comfortable using it before going to the next one. And that’s it! If you complete those three steps. you are ready to play. And, really… Play! It is so much fun.

What do I use it for? Corpus analysis tools include many great functions. I look for terms to confirm that they have been previously translated in this or that way. You can see how many times each term has been used and make an appropriate decision. For example, “operational” in Spanish could be “operativo,” “operacional,” “de negocios,” etc. When I check my corpus, which has been translated by professional translators, I can see how every term is used in its context and make my choice.

I can also “guess” a translation for a term to see if my guess is correct and, consequently, an accurate term for my translation. To illustrate, I can enter the word “framework” to search for a term that I know for sure contains it. I can sort my results by one, two or three words to the left or to the right (as shown by the colors red, green, and purple in the illustration) of the word “framework.” And I know it is an acronym, so I ask the program to look only for capitalized “Framework.” And, voilà, I get what I am looking for: Corporate Results Framework (CRF). If I click on Framework to see the context for every hit, the program takes me to the .txt file where the term came from. That is music to my ears.

Another tool that is music to my ears is BootCat, which converts your favorite websites into a format that can be examined in a corpus analysis tool. It is super easy to use, and it is extremely valuable if you have to translate a document about a topic that you still don’t know that well. (Great for newbies!) Just search the web, select sites or pages about your topic, and copy the URLs into BootCat.

After that first course, my interest in corpus analysis grew. There are a few courses and webinars that show translators not only how useful they are but also how to use them. However, few of them are free. I must confess, I am not an expert, but I am a good player. And when you become a skillful player, you too will see the ugly duckling become a beautiful swan!

Header image: Pixabay

Author bio

Patricia Brenes works in the Quality Control Unit of the Translation Section of the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C. She is a translator and terminologist, with a Master’s Degree in Specialized Translation from the University of Vic in Barcelona and certified by ECQA as Terminology Manager (TermNet, Vienna).

After realizing that there was a limited availability of resources and information for linguists and other stakeholders, she decided to start a terminology blog with resources and information: http://www.inmyownterms.com (Terminology for Beginners and Beyond).