#corpusmooc 3: discourse analysis

See the #corpusMOOC tag for all my posts on this MOOC.

And on the conveyor belt this week:

  • introductory lecture/s consisted of a walk through of the methodology behind a case study looking at the way the British press writes about refugees and asylum seekers – here’s a link to the finished article JIC, plus a TEDxTalk
  • the advanced lectures include two from Paul Baker, “a leading corpus-based discourse analyst” – skipped
  • Tony ‘in conversation’ with Paul about corpus-based discourse analysis and also talks to two non-linguists about their use of corpora for the study of international relations and accountancy – I listened to the first two of these, wish the lectures used the same relaxed style; Carol Goodey is also a fan of the more conversational approach
  • title for the week was discourse analysis and I’ve ‘done’ it all bar the advanced vids, so what’s discourse analysis?

progressLooking at the progress boxes at the top of the screen, I have marked all bar the supplementary and advanced materials as completed for week 2, so I feel rather more blue should be mixed in to keep the learner happy – if it’s optional, how come it looks like I’ve only done half of it?

From the slides…

Characteristics of the corpus based approach:

  • large amounts of data
  • the use and manipulation of frequency data
  • the hunt for co-occurences and patterns as a way of studying text and exploring meanings
  • annotation and grouping, eg seeing a set of words with a similar meaning
  • quantification – the accurate identification of how many and where
  • measures of statistical significance to test what we’re seeing and make more concrete claims as a consequence

Merits of corpus based analysis:

  • helps us recognise the big picture
  • indicates area of interest
  • allows for closer – qualitative – analysis
  • examination of a large number of instances of a specific pattern (through concordances)
  • triangulation – checking of intuitions



  • What is triangulation? – use of a range of methods to explore a problem from different perspectives
  • What is does asterisk (*) stand for in a query term? – zero or more characters
  • Which two large corpora were built for the research described in the lecture? – broadsheets corpus and tabloids corpus
  • Why was the tabloid corpus considerably smaller than the broadsheet corpus? – articles in broadsheets are longer (duh…)
  • What does ‘topoi’ mean? – key themes in the data
  • What does the acronym RASIM used in the lecture stand for? – Refugee(s), Asylum Seeker(s), Immigrant(s) and Migrant(s)
  • Which of the following ‘topoi’ occurred in the broadsheets? – pass
  • Which of these findings were reported the study discussed in the lecture? – the differences found between broadsheets and tabloids are a matter of degree
  • Which of these corpus methods was NOT used in the research described in the lecture? – colligation

Some of these are a bit basic. The videos don’t add a lot – you could get the same informationfra paper much more quickly. The exception is the in convo vids, where Tony drops the talking down to you style.

Re the discussion forum that isn’t, maybe it’s a different sort of learning, instructor/mentors miles more present than other MOOCs, but sustainable? Cater for all types of learner? More like an online course? I’ve given up on it. It’s just not good enough – saw something about importing text, but have no way of finding it again or asking a qu about it except in a random place. Can’t learn from each other as there’s nowhere to post new stuff, eg the articles re using AntConc I found. Feels like an OER rather than a MOOC. And also on the platform, in the quizzes, there’s an extra click to retry if you get an answer wrong. Clunky.


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