CaSMa at the Corpus Linguistics 2015 Conference

The current general appreciation for cross-disciplinary pollination has long ceased to be a novelty so it will not come as a surprise that CaSMa has found a legitimate reason to join the Corpus Linguistics 2015 conference hosted between 20-24th July 2015 by UCREL (University Centre for Computer Corpus Research on Language) at Lancaster University, UK.

Passion and enthusiasm for the art of words were not dampened despite the fact that the proceedings were sadly held in memory of Professor Geoffrey Leech, the linguist of international calibre around whom both this annual conference and the very UCREL initially coalesced. His memory was fittingly honoured by a rich event, running at all times with four simultaneous, well packed streams spanning a multitude of corpus interests.

Summarily put, corpus linguistics studies language in its actualization, through whole scale analysis of corpora – texts produced in real life, under all forms (written, spoken etc.) and in all circumstances. CaSMa joined the “Issues in corpus development” stream with both a paper and a poster, illustrating two of our team’s ongoing research strands.

Dr. Ansgar Koene gave a well-attended talk on the afternoon of the third day, presenting his paper “Ethics Considerations for Corpus Linguistic Studies Using Internet Resources”. Ansgar highlighted points of ethical concern across several stages of the linguistic analysis process: data collection, granularity of analysis, findings and data dissemination. Attention was called to the fact that linguistics is a discipline particularly exposed to ethical challenges due to the highly identifiable nature of the data it uses, making anonymisation very difficult, or virtually impossible when direct quotes are used. The challenges for corpus linguistics in adhering to common academic requirements of informed consent is also a significant issue. One of the key points that were discussed was the difficulty in distinguishing between public and private online data as the limit between public and private moves away from a strict binary to a series of intermediary positions which may be inconsistently perceived by the users and the platform providers.

Ramona Statache joined Thursday’s poster session, presenting her work on the “Descriptive ethics on social media from the perspective of ideology as defined within systemic functional linguistics”. The poster illustrated our view that, just as empirical studies can reveal disparities between expressed attitudes and evidenced behaviour, a linguistic study of the language used in academic ethics procedure documents can reveal similar disparities between expressed attitudes and the actual ideological precepts that are being implicitly communicated. It is hoped that this study can help enhance ethical standards in academia by showing how best to talk about ethics in order to actively develop a highly ethical research environment.

This conference once again confirmed to us that there is genuine interest to be found in these concerns regardless of discipline, and we look forward to delving in the many opportunities for future collaboration that emerged during our interactions at the event.

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