Lancaster University

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30th Anniversary Conference for ICAME

04/30/2009 11:13:00

Prof Leech at the ICAME conference in Helsinki 2006: courtesy of Sebastian Hoffmann
Prof Leech at the ICAME conference in Helsinki 2006: courtesy of Sebastian Hoffmann

The 30th anniversary conference of the International Computer Archive for Modern and Medieval English (ICAME) will be held at Lancaster University, home of one of the founding fathers of modern corpus linguistics, Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Leech.

Corpus linguistics – the analysis of large bodies of naturally occurring language or “corpora” – nowadays represents a well-established field which influences a variety of applications such as dictionary building, language teaching and translation. Lancaster University was a pioneer in corpus linguistics when Prof Leech first began to create a million word corpus of British English in 1970, leading to the publication of the Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen Corpus in 1978. In 1991-1995 he was leader of the Lancaster team as part of the consortium which built the British National Corpus (1991-1995), a 100,000,000-word corpus of modern English written texts and spoken transcriptions (see Lancaster was responsible for the word-class tagging of the whole British National Corpus.

Today, Lancaster University still is at the leading edge of computer corpus construction and analysis, with a focus on modern English, early modern English, modern foreign languages, minority, endangered, and ancient languages. Corpus linguistic methods also form the basis for the University’s Project Isis, which aims to develop new tools to identify paedophiles masquerading as children in chatrooms by examining their language.

Prof Leech is organising the conference along with Dr Paul Rayson, Director of the University Centre for Computer Corpus Research on Language (UCREL) in the Department of Computing, Dr Sebastian Hoffmann from the Department of Linguistics and English Language as well as two colleagues from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN).

Dr Hoffmann said: “We are absolutely delighted to have the honour of hosting this 30th anniversary event in the internationally important series of conferences of the English corpus linguistics association. We are expecting over 170 academics to attend the ICAME conference this year”.

The conference, entitled “Looking back—moving forward”, will be held at the Lancaster House Hotel from 27-31 May and will focus on the achievements of the corpus linguistics community so far, and the challenges to come. There will be plenaries from Nick Ellis (University of Michigan), Yueguo Gu (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), Geoffrey Pullum (University of Edinburgh) and Alison Wray (Cardiff University) as well as a plenary event by Stig Johansson and Geoffrey Leech, commemorating the history of ICAME on the occasion of its 30th meeting.

The conference is generously supported by a British Academy Conference Support Grant, the Linguistics Association of Great Britain and a set of publishers as listed on the conference website (