Hilde Hasselgård - University of Oslo, Norway

Using corpora in contrastive studies

Contrastive analysis is the systematic comparison of two or more languages with the aim of describing their similarities and differences (Johansson 2007:1). Using corpora for such an enterprise means providing a solid empirical foundation for the comparison. In my talk I will survey some corpus types that are well suited for cross-linguistic comparison, i.e. parallel corpora in the form of translation corpora as well as comparable corpora, discussing their strengths and drawbacks. I will also discuss some methodological aspects of using corpora in contrastive studies. For example: how do we know what words/constructions to compare? How can we retrieve the relevant constructions from the corpus? Finally, I will present some case studies as examples of how lexical, grammatical and discourse features can be compared across languages on the basis of corpora. Examples will be drawn mainly from the Oslo Multilingual Corpus.


Johansson, Stig. 2007. Seeing through Multilingual Corpora. On the use of corpora in contrastive studies. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Oslo Multilingual Corpus: http://www.hf.uio.no/ilos/english/services/omc/