Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How Words Work: Using a Concordancer

Hello all. In recent lessons we have explored some difficult questions on the meanings and uses of words. What, I am asked, does "get" mean?

The answer, of course, is that it means many things. And it's impossible to give a definitive answer in the course of one, or more, lessons.

This is where you can do some research. And the Net can greatly assist you - through a 'concordancer' program.

A concordancer is a simple search tool. You type in a word on which you want more information. The Concordancer will rapidly search through a large body of text - called a 'corpus'. When done, the program will display all occurrences of your key word down the centre of your computer screen. The sentence in which it has been found will be shown to left and right of the word. Then you examine each occurence to see how the word is used.

Here is an example. I search on the word 'get' and display some of the results below. How many meanings of 'get' can you find?
  1. plot about a Bronx mother-of-three who gets a job to bail out her philandering hu
  2. re is a link between star signs and who gets along with whom. Even those dubious a
  3. at 1,000m in the eastern Alps probably gets as much snow as a resort at 1, 500m (
  4. union. This is where the debate gets interesting. When the Bank governor w
  5. s classes are all downstairs, but as he gets older his year group will also be tau
  6. used after she saw a couple with a baby getting into a car. She told The Sun: "I s
  7. ther about providing he goes to bed and gets up at reasonable hours. 3. A s
  8. " "I wouldn't like to think that I was getting you down." "No, don't worry about i
  9. e Rolling Stones, and they shouldn't be getting married in the first place — modern
  10. well. IDEAL FOR A BREAK If your idea of getting away from it all is relaxation, the best o
  11. tends to press ahead with its policy of getting rid of 15,000 staff a year over the next t
  12. e tonight." "Umm, well, I think we were getting a taxi." "Please; let me. Please. Fiona. Y
Here are two quick links to concordancers:


Please do leave your answers on the Tag Board or in the Comments section after this post. Include the line number and the meaning of 'get' in the line concerned.
I look forward to your answers.
Coming up: more on Listening.
All the best!
 - Mike

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