ELL363 : Corpus Approaches to English Grammar

Convener(s): Dr Gabriel Ozon


General Information

Linguists have increasingly resorted to corpora in order to test and evaluate their theories and hypotheses against a systematic collection of utterances representative of language as used by their speakers. Linguists can now use evidence not only to formulate and justify formal analyses, but also to account for people’s knowledge and use of language. While this module builds on materials introduced in other modules (Structure of English, Varieties of English, History of English, as well as Sociolinguistics and Corpus Linguistics), the topics covered expand the exploration of areas of sentence structure. Linguistic events (particularly those relevant to recent variation and change in verbal complementation) will be investigated in different corpora, employing sophisticated research tools/software and nuanced techniques.


With a dual focus on ‘why’ and ‘how to’ in corpus-based language studies, this practical module will be delivered through a series of lectures and hands-on lab sessions. The weekly teaching typically comprises two parts. The first is a lecture introducing key concepts, theories and data analysis skills. The second part is a workshop applying those concepts and skills in a mini project exploring a specific linguistic issue. This module is computer-based and makes heavy use of specialised software packages and online databases to analyze large electronic databases of natural language production. In weeks 6-11, students work on the assessment task in practical sessions. Workshops also function as feedback sessions in which students present their findings and research plans for group discussion.


The assessment consists of (i) a short review of the literature, relevant to the topic of English grammar selected for independent study. This will be revised with feedback and included as part of (ii) the final, 3,500-word project report based on independent research. Students will be evaluated on their ability to undertake independent work, and on the presentation of their own research findings into a cogently argued report, which should ideally follow dissertation guidelines very closely.

Contact Details

0114 222 8478


Information last changed: Thursday 17th of March 2016 :: 09:35:41 AM (GMT)

Please note: This module may or may not run in any individual session. Please check with the course convener.


The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK