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Changing English across the 20th Century: A Corpus-based Study

Project: Non-funded ProjectProjects

1/08/0531/07/07

The main aim of the research is to carry out an investigation of areas of change in grammatical usage in 20th Century British English, focussing on the verb phrase. The study will be based on a package of four corpora sampled at regular intervals: 1991 - 1961 - 1931 - 1901.

Two sub-goals are to:

a) Compile a new corpus of British English called Lancaster1901 focussing on the beginning of the twentieth century.

b) Enhance the encoding and annotation of Lancaster1901 and the three existing corpora (Lancaster1931, LOB and FLOB), and release the enhancements to the academic community.

The proposed research contributes in two important ways to the study of the history of English during one of its most rapid phases of development. It provides a package of corpora across the whole twentieth century; and it allows us to deepen the analysis by systematically taking into account the contribution of semantic factors in the distributional behaviour of grammatical categories. Together these developments will help us to provide a comprehensive picture of changing grammatical usage in British English in the twentieth century.