Dead words

A couple of days ago someone wrote to me and asked if I had heard of ‘Corpus Linguistics’.  The first thing that popped into my head was “dead words”.  (Corpus – corpse / linguistics – words).  In my mind’s eye I saw a load of words lying around, unloved and unused, dying or dead.  

I know I sometimes get called a grammar / spelling Nazi / Stalinist (I wish they would make up their minds), but I really can’t get into linguistics.  I like my sentences to be whole, alive, and full of meaning, and if the meaning can be interpreted in a multitude of ways, so much the better.  Sentences do not have to be perfect, but they do have to paint a picture in my mind.  Personally, I do not like my sentences dissected and parsed into subjects, objects, verbs, nouns, prepositional phrases and all their ilk.

That said there is a use for things like Corpus Linguistics, but to me they do not belong in any of my EFL sessions, they belong to the world of spell checkers, Google and search engines, as machines try desperately to get their metal heads around what the hell we are all talking about.

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I am a director of the Learn English Network. A non-profit organisation registered in the UK dedicated to helping people learning English and people who teach English online.

Learn English 2019