Corpus linguistics is real(ly)? awesome

Now and then, you hear something, and you wonder why it was said the way it was said. For me, that is the phenomenon that you hear the word “real” without the prescriptively required adverbial “ly” as a modifier of adjectives:

I just heard some real bad news (Kanye West)

That shirt is real fly! (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)

As said, one would expect “really bad” and “really fly”. These kinds of things attract my attention, and I decided to do a small corpus linguistic investigation to find out what is going on.

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How to extract data from COHA into Excel or R?

The Corpus of Historical American English is a wonderful source for corpus linguistic research on diachronic English phenomena. There are about 400 million words from newspapers, magazines, fiction and non-fiction books, starting in 1810 up to 2009. A very neat web interface is available for searching in the COHA, and there are actually quite a number of neat features available for search.

However, the COHA web interface does not allow you to make a really good dataset for corpus linguistic research.

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