Small Corpora and Pragmatics

  • Elaine VaughanEmail author
  • Brian Clancy
Part of the Yearbook of Corpus Linguistics and Pragmatics book series (YCLP, volume 1)


Corpus linguistics is more often than not associated with large-scale collections of spoken or written data, representing genres, varieties or contexts of use. Many of these have been successfully exploited for pragmatics research, producing generalised findings that hold across a range of texts. However, it may be argued that rather than stopping at generalised findings that note the frequency of pragmatic phenomena in large corpora, an important research agenda now foregrounds a focus on small corpora and local pragmatic patterns. This chapter will argue that smaller, carefully collected, context-specific corpora, both spoken and written, are of great import in pragmatics research. Many pragmatic features of language such as deixis or pragmatic markers play a fundamental role in communication, and, in these cases, are linguistically realised in the type of ‘small’ linguistic items that tend to be frequent in all corpora. Therefore, smaller corpora provide a platform for not only establishing the range and frequency of these items but the role of different genres or contexts in characterising their use. We will provide evidence for this in the form of two corpus case studies in order to illustrate how small corpora have created a practical and empirical route for the study of pragmatics, and how this synergy of small corpora and pragmatic research provides rich and contextualised findings.


Large Corpus Personal Pronoun Small Corpus British National Corpus Family Discourse 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Languages, Literature, Culture and CommunicationUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland
  2. 2.Mary Immaculate CollegeUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland

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