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Computer Corpus Linguistics: An Innovation in the Humanities


Computer corpus linguistics (CCL) is a scientific innovation that has facilitated the creation and analysis of large corpora in a systematic way by means of computer technology since the 1950s. This article provides an account of the CCL pioneers in general but particularly of those in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland. It is found that Germany and Sweden, due to more advantageous financing and weaker communities of generativists, had a faster adoption of CCL than the other two countries. A particular late adopter among the four was Switzerland, which did not take up CCL until foreign professors had been recruited.




This article is an outcome of the research program “Re-Structuring Higher Education and Scientific Innovation” (RHESI) within the European Science Foundation initiative “Higher Education and Social Change” (Euro-HESC). The research has been supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG; Grant Schi 553/7-1), the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO), the Swedish Research Council (VR; Grant 90671701), and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF; Grant 125814). We are very grateful to Grit Laudel for sharing information on the Netherlands based on her interviews.


Engwall, L., Aljets, E., Hedmo, T. and Ramuz, R. (2014), "Computer Corpus Linguistics: An Innovation in the Humanities", Organizational Transformation and Scientific Change: The Impact of Institutional Restructuring on Universities and Intellectual Innovation (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 42), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 331-365.



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