Downunder

Last week I presented a paper called ‘Introducing the Cambridge Corpus of Dutch English: Methodological insights and first results’ at the 17th Conference of the International Association for World Englishes at Monash University, Melbourne (Australia). Here’s the abstract:

Corpora are increasingly being built and used to examine varieties of WEs, from different L1 varieties to Outer Circle varieties like Indian and Singaporean English. Fewer focus on Expanding Circle Englishes, and those that do usually take an error-based SLA perspective. The Dutch component of the International Corpus of Learner English (Granger, 2002), for example, includes only undergraduate essays, by definition precluding the English used daily by countless Dutch professionals and academics. Thus no corpus yet allows for insight into the wide-ranging, educated use of English in the Netherlands from a WEs perspective.

The Corpus of Dutch English that is currently being built fills this empirical gap. With 200 texts and text extracts of 2000 words each from different academic and business genres (i.e. 400,000 words in total), in size and structure it is modelled loosely on the written component of the regional ICE corpora. This presentation explores the implications of this design for the positioning of the corpus (as ICE currently only targets ENL and ESL varieties) and the issues surrounding description of varieties traditionally seen as belonging to the Expanding Circle.

The presentation also discusses the results of preliminary lexical analyses, particularly in terms of semantic modification (narrowing, widening, grammatical shift, etc.) and loan translation. The latter includes numerous examples of false friends, or what Hülmbauer (2007) refers to as ‘true friends’, where the L1 form suggests an English word which traditionally has a different meaning, e.g. the Dutch paragraaf becomes ‘paragraph’, with the new meaning ‘section’.

The corpus will eventually be made accessible and searchable along parameters like age, sex, region, occupation and education. Given its comparability with ICE and other corpora, it will be of use to WEs researchers as well as ELT practitioners.

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