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Conference Information

Full Title: COLDOC: Processing Linguistic Corpus. Tools and Methods

Location: Paris, France
Start Date: 04-Oct-2012 - 05-Oct-2012
Contact: ColDoc 2012
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting URL:
Meeting Description: COLDOC is a conference organized every year by postgraduate students and young researchers of the MoDyCo laboratory (UMR 7114 - CNRS/Université Paris Ouest Nanterre/Université Paris Descartes). This year our aim is to explore tools and methods which have emerged around corpus-based studies. Over the last decades, linguistics has undergone a considerable evolution in its object of study: it tends to focus less on language itself (as an a priori unlimited and introspective object) and more on corpus (as an attested sample of language). Today, the central position of corpus in linguistic research has an important effect on the majority of linguistic studies made by both linguistic experts and postgraduate students.

This rise of corpus-related issues fuels a latent informal debate: the new perspective is often presented either in an exaggeratedly negative light (as a simplistic ‘fashion’ that inhibits theoretical studies), or in a too positive one (as a revolution that makes linguistics more ‘scientific’ and ‘real’).

We would like to go over this reductive conflict and invite all willing postgraduate students and young researchers to examine the range of methods and tools that has emerged with this ‘new age’ of corpus studies. It is our hope to highlight the connection between observation and analysis, attempting to follow the idea of a complementarity of the empirical and theoretical ways, as was already emphasized in his time by Francis Bacon:

Those who have handled sciences have been either men of experiment or men of dogmas. The men of experiment are like the ant, they only collect and use; the reasoners resemble spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance. But the bee takes a middle course: it gathers its material from the flowers of the garden and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own. Novum Organum (1620), Livre I, 95

The heart of our discussion will be this metaphorical ‘art of the bee’ in working with corpus. From the point of collecting the utterances or texts to the final theoretical interpretation and its applications, ‘processing’ the corpus work does indeed resemble a phase of ‘digestion’ of empirical data.

More precisely, this evolution seems to have an intrinsic link with the development of tools in informatics and computer sciences (text navigation, online corpora, transcription tools, analyzer tools), which have dramatically changed our access to sources and affected the procedures of linguistic study. We assume that these technological evolutions have had an influence not only on our field of linguistics but also in an interdisciplinary way in other social sciences. It seems that in these fields, a similar trend of ‘experimental’ and ‘data processing’ approaches has soared over the last period.

The development of internet and computers has introduced a whole range of possibilities in corpus exploration. Part of the linguistic community is working on corpora as such, providing an always more detailed analysis, whereas others investigate the development of instruments through NLP. In both cases, central problem is how to pool the findings. The situation is rather complex because of the great variety of approaches which depend on topics and orientations chosen, and on tendencies to accompany them (constitution of ‘big’ corpora, annotation workshop).
Linguistic Subfield: Text/Corpus Linguistics
Subject Language: None
LL Issue: 23.3784

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