Concordancing for CADS: Practical challenges and theoretical implications

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Concordance analysis is widely recognised as one of the main techniques in a corpus linguist’s toolkit. However, despite a growing body of work critically exploring previously unquestioned mainstays of corpus methods (Mautner, 2015; Taylor & Marchi, 2018), this has not focused on concordance analysis specifically. In this paper, we aim to discuss issues that researchers may encounter when interpreting concordances. We begin in Step One with a cursory examination of 800 concordance lines in order to identify potential issues. In Step Two, we assess the distribution of those issues in a reduced sample of 200. As a result, we identify eight interpretability issues: noise in the corpus, non-standard syntax, unclear referring expressions, unclear quotation source attribution, technical terms/jargon, acronyms/initialisms, unspecific co-text, and lines unrelated to the research question. After reflecting on practical challenges, we discuss the epistemological implications of removing concordance lines uncritically and suggest ten recommendations for future work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-58
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Corpus Linguistics
Issue number1
Early online date27 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024

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