General and specific corpora with online concordance tools

Manuscript editors and translators have long relied on bespoke text collections (termed corpora) to gain insight into phrasing in different disciplines or genres. Relatively few, however, can take the time to set their corpora up as artifact-free text files for analysis with a desktop concordancer – a simple tool that makes phrasing patterns easier to interpret. Recently, several online corpora have become available on websites with built-in concordancing software. These corpora give us an easier way to enjoy the benefits of a quality-control approach known as corpus-guided editing and translating. The approach helps with various doubt-generating problems we face: language attrition (or more likely, skewed acquisition over a lifetime), differences of opinion between colleagues or between an editor and a client, and adjusting our ear when we move among different fields. 

This talk and discussion will focus on two goals: 1) to understand the types of language queries corpus analysis can answer quickly, and 2) to look at some of the new online corpora available and how they can be filtered to provide more specialized guidance. 

About the facilitator

Mary Ellen Kerans is a freelance authors’ editor and translator based in Barcelona, Spain. She is active in the association Mediterranean Editors and Translators. Her background is in English language instruction, including the teaching of academic writing and English for specific purposes in the health sciences.