U.S. Supreme Court uses corpus created by BYU professor Mark Davies

His billion-word online corpora aid study of language, culture

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  • agkcrbs Holladay, UT
    May 29, 2012 3:54 a.m.

    Davies makes his corpora by downloading and scanning texts from various sources (in the olden days, they had to be hand-compiled), categorising them by genre, and feeding them into his software that tags all the words. The resultant database can then be searched, though it leans a bit toward the technical side.

    Political spin? Yes; by default, the media data include media-preferred language. Spin is two-edged, though. A common anecdote of Davies is the negative traits associated with "Republican" and the positive ones with "Democrat" that showed up in the news data, instantly exposing its bias. Fiction would be closer to language on the ground. Spoken data goes both ways, since it's largely from national television transcripts. But the assumption that overanalysis obscures the truth is backward here.

    Tithing? BYU did buy some extra hardware, but most support came from the NEH. Still taxpayer money, anyway.

    A time waster? Well, we all have our hobbies that our busy-body neighbours might tell us to abandon to spend more time vegetating with family. Seeing that language is man's interface with God, family, and the world, I wouldn't overlook the importance of understanding it better.

  • Hank Pym SLC, UT
    March 14, 2011 12:55 p.m.

    As I understand it, Professor Davies is trying to understand words by the context they are used?

    Interesting endeavor. Best of Luck.

  • FrazzleDazzle Provo, ut
    March 14, 2011 11:11 a.m.

    Yep I thought about all of these things in jr. high. But I wasn't married. Don't you have loved ones to spend time with? Shouldn't they be receiving every free moment of your time? Analyze this for three hours, miss another three hours with the person who chose to marry you.

  • thebig1 SLC, UT
    March 14, 2011 11:02 a.m.

    I'm just trying to make enough money to feed my family and pay tithing so I can fund this program at the Y

  • DerVerder Paragonah, UT
    March 14, 2011 8:19 a.m.

    I dig the stuff. (Get it?). My linguistics prof. Herr Ludvig would ask question from a German point of view. Kind of not important in the big picture, but really interesting,
    Most annoying and over used phrase of 011? "going forward".

  • On the other hand Spanish Fork, UT
    March 14, 2011 7:45 a.m.

    Go BYU linguistics!

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    March 14, 2011 6:16 a.m.

    This sort of reminds me of Richard Wirthlin's "Quantifiably Safe Rhetoric."
    The whole dynamic changes when wordsmiths become spin doctors.
    Too much analysis leads to political correctness over truth-telling.
    And heaven knows we need more truth and less hype.

  • caleb in new york Glen Cove, NY
    March 14, 2011 5:20 a.m.

    How is a corpus formed? This article didn't seem to address that key question.