Linguistik online 28, 3/06

Korpuslinguistik, Hermeneutik und die soziale Konstruktion der Wirklichkeit

Wolfgang Teubert (Birmingham)



In this article, I attempt to embed corpus linguistics in a framework of social constructionism and hermeneutics. Corpus linguistics, as I see it, has a unique approach to meaning. It aims to describe the meaning of a unit under consideration exclusively through usage and paraphrase. These units can be seen as objects of the discourse, and their meaning is what has been said about them within the discourse. While over the last forty years corpora were mainly used to find out what is common to different occurrences of such units, for instance a lexical item such as friendly fire, we should now turn our attention also to what make each occurrence a singular event, somehow building on paraphrases before the event and the traces this particular event leaves in subsequent texts. I am not interested in what is going on in the minds of speakers and hearers, and I am not interested in how what is said may refer to reality. Meaning as seen here is only found within the discourse, negotiated in a never-ending flow of contributions to the discourse, in which what has been said so far is continuously rearranged in and permuted in new contributions to the discourse. The discourse is therefore autopoietic and self-referential.


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