Corpus linguistics: context and registers

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Introducción a los Estudios Lingüísticos Ingleses. Tutor: Mª del Camino Rea Rizzo
Word Count: 3071
CORPUS LINGUISTICS: CONTEXT AND REGISTERS

Introduction
This paper will be focused mainly in the comparison of different contexts of two synonyms found on a given corpus. For this, we will choose a number of concordances with one of the chosen words and compare differences andresemblances with the other chosen word; as well, we will provide an explanation of the meaning. We have decided to work with the words nice and beautiful because we find that, although they are synonyms and sometimes they have the same meaning, they have different connotations; most times, using either one or the other can change the meaning of the complete sentence. We will search these words in ageneral corpus that includes the Brown Corpus and the British National Corpus, both written and spoken, on the LexTutor Concordance website.

This paper will also include statistics of the most common collocations found in this corpus, both on the right and on the left of the searched words, comparing the results of the words we will work on.

We will conclude this paper with a final conclusion ofthe analysis performed and summarizing the main findings we have seen.

Analysis
In Biber and Conrad (2001), it is stated that one register cannot be represented as “general English” in linguistic descriptions. Biber and Conrad (2001) go on to say that “it is easy to demonstrate the importance of register variation for lexical analysis by contrasting the use of near-synonymous words”. This iswhat our analysis will be focused on; we will start comparing 17 pairs of concordances with the words nice and beautiful and a different word, analyzing their context and register, and explaining their similarities or differences.

For the first pair, the other word chosen is Day:
218. home from school if it's a NICE day, we'll, we'll have to hurry home. (14 lines)
093. he, he stop, in, in .Just it was a BEAUTIFUL day, so I said why not stay (3 lines)
Both adjectives have positive connotations. The word nice, in this concordance, is a very general adjective. It can be referred to different positive aspects of a day, in this case, but it is normally associated with weather. Nevertheless, a nice day can also be associated with a person's feelings, normally when the day is going well forthat person. On the other hand, a beautiful day is generally most used for describing weather, as seen in this concordance, implying a sunny but not too hot day.
We can see that these concordances belong to spoken corpora, due to the repetition of words. We can also say that both nice and beautiful are most associated with weather when accompanied by the word day.

Gold:
317. a padlock. Looksa nice gold bracelet. A NICE gold seven bar bracelet. (7 lines)
147. he called them across and gave each of them a BEAUTIFUL gold watch. (1 line)
Both adjectives are referring to an object made of gold, that being a bracelet and a watch. In the first one, nice seems to describe a bracelet more for its quality than for its appearance, although it can also imply that this bracelet is beautiful. Wedismiss the possibility of nice referring to gold itself instead of the bracelet, as gold's qualities are always the same, it cannot be good or bad gold.
The function of the word beautiful is very clear, it is referred to a watch that looks good on the outside, without specifying about how it works or its durability as a watch.
The context of nice gold bracelet belongs to spoken corpora, asshort sentences are used. On the other side, the context of beautiful gold watch is clearly written corpora, most likely taken from a fiction prose register. We can see that different registers can suppose a variation in the meaning of a word. As Biber (2005) points out, “corpora are designed to represent some register differences”. He believes that registers are important when we are studying...
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