Welcome back to all of you picking up your A level English Language studies from last year and hello to all new students of the best A level course*. There will be a few new posts this term about different areas of the course and lots of stuff on the @EngLangBlog Twitter account, but this post is about a project that linguists at Lancaster University need your help with.
Researchers there are currently putting together a 100-million word corpus of written language. A corpus is basically a well-organised database of language that then provides a body of material to be explored and analysed in different ways later on. Because the ways we write and the devices we use to write on and with have changed over time, linguists need examples of electronic language from actual, real-life users of it to build up a better picture of what's happening. Which is where you come in.
Extracts of emails, online conversations, WhatsApp messages and the like are all needed, so if you can help feed data into this project, have a look at the instructions here and take part. If you are a teacher, you might also want to build some of this in to your work on language change and technology.
Once the data has been collected and analysed, the linguists at Lancaster will be writing an article for the English and Media Centre's emagazine, which will take a look at how the corpus is tracking changing language and what the data tells us about the directions the English language is taking.