George L. Dillon
Language, as the term is used around departments of language and literature, usually occurs with a specifier (Dickens' language, the language of advertising) and thinks of it as the style, or register, of particular users or communities of use. The linguistics of the past half century have not been of much use to us, focusing as it does/did on languages as systems of formal rules, some of them universal. Today, in the climate of Post Generative Grammar (PGG!--pass it on) schools and approaches such as Cognitive Linguistics, Systemic Functional Linguistics, and Corpus Linguistics offer concepts and tools that are much more useful to our purposes.
We will begin with a look at the treatment of genre and register in Systemic Functional Lings. using Susanne Eggins' survey and then take up Cognitive Linguistics, focusing via Croft and Cruse's Introduction on the construal of word and phrase meaning in contexts and testing the viability of their guiding maxim: all differences of form are differences of meaning. Finally we will work with Corpus Linguistics as a group of tools for making patterns of usage visible that we would not otherwise see or be able to pin down. Certain articles applying corpus techniques to questions of meaning in cognitive linguistics will make a key bridge between the approaches. Considerable hands-on instruction in constructing and analyzing corpora will be provided.
Topics for the seminar paper can range from an application of these tools to address particular texts or issues to critical examinations of the theories and ideas presented.
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