Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies

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The compilation of electronic corpora, with special reference to the African Languages

Gilles-Maurice de Schryver, DJ Prinsloo


Compiling and querying electronic corpora has become a sine qua non as an empirical basis for contemporary linguistic research. As a result, around the world, corpus applications now abound in all fields of linguistics. In this article it is argued that, if African linguistics is to take its rightful place in the new millennium, the active compilation, querying and application of corpora should become an absolute priority. The article first presents a comprehensive theoretical conspectus of electronic corpora. This theoretical section is followed by a practical exploration for the African languages. To that end, two very different African-language corpus projects are described in detail. The survey of these two projects, combined to inter-African-language comparisons, are deemed to be sufficient proof of the feasibility of establishing a discipline of corpus linguistics for the African languages at present.

(S/ern Af Linguistics & Applied Language Stud: 2000 18(1-4): 89-106)

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