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Spoken language in written form

24 March 2015
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How to represent spoken language in written form: analysing conversational data from James Joyce to Southern Papua New Guinea

Presenter: Professor Volker Gast, Friedrich Schiller University, Germany

Humanities Research Centre seminar

In this work visiting Fellow Gast extended his work in corpus linguistics and translation to collaborate with a researcher with interests in Joyce and Woolf.

I see that Professor Gast is one of the creators of Atomic, an annotation tool for corpora, and so his analysis of clause structures in literary extracts and in the BNC corpus as well in Idi, a language from Southern Papua New Guinea, was not surprisingly deeply detailed.

I did disagree with his suggestion that two conversations he used as a comparison had the same setting: two people discuss an artwork. As an SFL person, I felt the contexts could hardly be compared at all. One conversation was two academics, long-time work colleagues, discussing where to hang a portrait in one of their offices, and the other was an Idi community speaker describing a picture for the language researcher (a picture constructed to elicit linguistic features). The difference in the interpersonal relationships seemed to me the crucial fact in describing proximity dimensions between interlocutors, rather than anything in the different languages being used.

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