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The electronic life of texts: insights from corpus linguistics for all fields of English

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Chapter Summary

More English literary and nonliterary texts “go electronic” and often online every day, from literary projects like EEBO (Early English Books Online) to linguistics projects like ARCHER (A Representative Corpus of Historical English Registers), from lexicographic projects like the Oxford English Dictionary Online to projects so ambitious they are almost uncategorizable, like Google’s digitization of entire university libraries. How should researchers and teachers of English best exploit these new electronic riches? Scholars in English corpus linguistics have been pushing the boundaries and addressing the challenges of working with collections of electronic texts for decades, in ways that can usefully inform all sub-disciplines of English literature and language study. This chapter focuses on the new research opportunities and lines of questioning that electronic text collections open in a variety of fields, on the wisdom gained in corpus linguistics on best practices for working with electronic texts, and on muchneeded conversations between scholars in all sub-disciplines of English for how best to build electronic text collections so they can answer the questions we want to ask.



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