Concord with collective nouns in British and American English

Seminar Paper, 2004

13 Pages, Grade: 1-



1. Introduction

2. Corpora used

3. The problem of indefinable nouns in both corpora

4. Overall frequencies

5. Findings

6. Conclusion

7. Bibliography

1. Introduction

The main and most important part of this term paper is based upon a personal corpus- based study, which should from the start be clearly characterized as relatively restrictive and not quite large in size, in order to avoid any further problems and misunderstandings. This study I mentioned above concerns and tries to closely examine the phenomenon of collective nouns, and to be more specific, we will try to examine the concord with collective nouns in both British and American English of the 1990’s, always with the hidden desire to finally come with a reasonable conclusion towards the end of the paper.

In order to succeed in this procedure we will first try to give some short definitions of the most basic notions, which are used in the following pages. Then, we will proceed in describing the corpora, as well as the methodology used. Moreover, we will point out the problems that automatically arise from the fact of defining the collective nouns themselves on the one hand and of this corpus- based study as a whole on the other hand. After making these essential things clear, we will become more familiar with the theories regarding this subject; theories and theses that already exist, they have already been uttered and can be found in various books of grammar of the English language. Later on we will reveal and present the overall frequencies that derived from studying the corpora representing British and American English always in terms of concord with collective nouns. These frequencies will consist the exact findings of the study, regarding the percentages of collective nouns, which can be treated either as singulars or plurals. In addition, exploiting those findings a comparison should be made amongst the prevailing past theories and our findings from the corpora. Finally we will discuss potential topics for further studies on this subject, as well as the importance of the results of the study.

2. Corpora Used

At the very first beginning of the main part of the paper, as we have already mentioned above, we will give the definitions of the following terms. We will define the most central word, namely the term of corpus, as well as the different kinds of corpora that exist, something that will consequently lead us to the description and definition of the two corpora that are used in this particular case.

Despite the fact that there are many discussions on how a linguistic corpus should be defined, mainly crucially depending on how broadly one wishes to define it, we will give a rather restricted definition of a corpus (Cf. Meyer 2002: xi). For the purposes of this term- paper then,

a corpus will be considered a collection of texts or parts of texts

upon which some general linguistic analysis can be conducted.

In recent times, a corpus has come to be regarded as a body of text made available in computer- readable form for purposes of linguistic analysis. (Meyer 2002: xii)

One can easily distinguish several different types of electronic corpora. The most important categories, to which a corpus can belong, are the general, the regional, the dialect, the learners’, the historical and the multilingual corpora. We can also distinguish between written and spoken corpora (Cf. Kennedy 1998: 19-21). The first computer corpus that was compiled for linguistic research was the Brown Corpus. The Brown Corpus, which was created in 1961, consists of one million words of edited written American English and is divided into 2,000- word samples from various genres [e.g. press, reportage, fiction, government documents] (Cf. Meyer 2002: xii). After the Brown corpus, another one was modeled, and intended to be its British English counterpart. So, between 1970 and 1978 the Lancaster- Oslo/ Bergen [LOB] Corpus was compiled. The LOB Corpus also consists of one million words of edited written British English and is divided into 2,000- word samples (Cf. Kennedy 1998:28).


Excerpt out of 13 pages


Concord with collective nouns in British and American English
University of Sheffield
„An Introduction to Corpus Linguistics“
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ISBN (Book)
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Concord, British, American, English, Introduction, Corpus, Linguistics“
Quote paper
Eleni Papadopoulou (Author), 2004, Concord with collective nouns in British and American English, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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