Corpus linguistics is a research approach to investigate the patterns of language use empirically, based on analysis of large collections of natural texts. While corpus-based analysis has had relatively little influence on theoretical linguistics, it has revolutionized the study of language variation and use: what speakers and writers actually do with the lexical and grammatical resources of a language. Corpus-based research employs the research methods of quantitative and qualitative social science to investigate language use patterns empirically.
This four-volume collection is organized around linguistic research questions that can be investigated from a corpus perspective and includes amongst others studies of individual words, comparisons of supposedly synonymous words, studies of grammatical variation, and sociolinguistic studies of dialects, registers, styles, and world varieties.
Corpus-based analysis has also proven to be important for the study of historical change. Volume One: Lexical Studies focuses on the study of word use, describing the 'collocational' associations of words, and describing phraseological patterns in a language. Volume Two: Grammar moves on to research questions that relate to grammar, including the special uses of a grammatical feature in a particular register, the discourse factors influencing the choice among grammatical variants, and lexico-grammatical patterns of association. Volume Three: Varieties investigates registers, dialects, and national varieties of English. Some of these studies describe the characteristics of a particular variety; describe the ways in which registers or dialects differ in their preference for particular linguistic variants. Volume Four: Methods and Applications addresses two major considerations: corpus design and analytical methods. This volume also includes a section on analyses of the patterns of use for learners of English as well as a section on the pedagogical implications of corpus research.