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The Spoken British National Corpus 2014: design, compilation and analysis

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Unpublished
Publication date29/01/2018
Number of pages277
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Thesis sponsors
  • ESRC
Award date20/12/2017
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The ESRC-funded Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science at Lancaster University (CASS) and the English Language Teaching group at Cambridge University Press (CUP) have compiled a new, publicly-accessible corpus of spoken British English from the 2010s, known as the Spoken British National Corpus 2014 (Spoken BNC2014). The 11.5 million-word corpus, gathered solely in informal contexts, is the first freely-accessible corpus of its kind since the spoken component of the original British National Corpus (the Spoken BNC1994), which, despite its age, is still used as a proxy for present-day English in research today.

This thesis presents a detailed account of each stage of the Spoken BNC2014’s construction, including its conception, design, transcription, processing and dissemination. It also demonstrates the research potential of the corpus, by presenting a diachronic analysis of ‘bad language’ in spoken British English, comparing the 1990s to the 2010s. The thesis shows how the research team struck a delicate balance between backwards compatibility with the Spoken BNC1994 and optimal practice in the context of compiling a new corpus. Although comparable with its predecessor, the Spoken BNC2014 is shown to represent innovation in approaches to the compilation of spoken corpora.

This thesis makes several useful contributions to the linguistic research community. The Spoken BNC2014 itself should be of use to many researchers, educators and students in the corpus linguistics and English language communities and beyond. In addition, the thesis represents an example of good practice with regards to academic collaboration with a commercial stakeholder. Thirdly, although not a ‘user guide’, the methodological discussions and analysis presented in this thesis are intended to help the Spoken BNC2014 to be as useful to as many people, and for as many purposes, as possible.