Our main objective is to demonstrate that a corpus-informed discourse analysis can establish discursive change over time and that this change is so dispersed and distributed that will be mostly imperceptible to the ordinary newspaper reader.
The project will also get three specific objectives:
- To show how mass media like the UK national newspapers have a double function, in reporting but also construing and ‘making normal’ emerging trends. Those trends may be technological or cultural or social, chiefly, or, as in the case of growing wealth inequality over the period 1971 to 2011, more palpably political.
- To show how usage of many words, phrases, and expressions has changed, with some stopping being used, other phrases arising in their place, and systematic changes in the patterns of use (e.g. collocational changes).
- To show how diachronic CL can combine with CDA objectives. This is a comparatively new development, as previous historical approaches are more lexicographical or genre-focussed, as seen in the pioneering work of the Helsinki corpus linguists (Taavitsainen and VARIENG) who study the development of medical writing in the 17th and 18th centuries using corpus methods.