A major, overriding outcome of the organic complexity of language, which legitimizes the rival claims inherent in its description, is the empiricist/rationalist “paradigm war” over sources of language data. While rationalists advance the pervasiveness of competence and, by extension, the reliability of introspective methodology as compared to the “skewed” performance data, empiricist accounts treat naturally occurring language not only as dependable but amenable to a wider scope of investigation as well. However, the inception of Corpus Linguistics as a definable approach in the 1980s marked the start of a new exploratory potential that surpassed and identified drawbacks in the then-popular Chomsky’s linguistics. A corpus-based approach to language study markedly differs from their ‘rivals’, not only as the former employs a set of identifiable research methods but, most importantly, as using a corpus allows for a breadth of coverage that renders possible addressing frequency–based questions. This property enables both the objective verification of introspection-based assumptions and an ongoing reappraisal of existing descriptions. This paper probes the nature of corpus linguistics as a methodology to language study by elaborating on core tenets of corpus-based approach, and by assessing repercussions of the breadth-of-coverage property on a variety of language-related areas to examine what insights and contributions corpora may bring in each.
Keywords: Corpus Linguistics, Language Study, Frequency Analysis, Variety, Lexicography, Discourse Analysis