Lecture by the Eminent Corpus Linguist John M. Kirk

John M. Kirk’s lecture ‘Corpora and the Spoken Language: Resolving the Paradox’ is going to focus on approaches to transcription of spoken language and possibilities of enriching the transcription by pragmatic and prosodic annotation.

The lecture will take place on Tuesday 6 December at 17:30 at the Faculty of Arts (nám. Jana Palacha 2, room 104).


This paper considers the paradox whereby transcriptions are the object of study for investigations into the spoken language, yet transcriptions omit so much of ‘what is heard’ when an utterance is made. One solution is the alignment and synchronisation of the transcription with the original audio- or video- recordings. Nevertheless, transcriptions remain agnostic with regard to Searlean notions of illocutionary force and perlocutionary effect. The paper proposes that the enhancement of transcriptions with pragmatic and prosodic annotation can overcome that paradox and get much closer to capturing the original utterance objectively. It argues that annotation is part of transcription. It presents a range of new primary descriptive results arising from the annotations.

John M. Kirk (Technische Universität Dresden, formerly Queen’s University Belfast) is a dialectologist and corpus linguist who has specialized on Scots and Irish English. He is a founder participant of the massive International Corpus of English project, to which he has contributed the component for Ireland, North and South, and the pragmatically- and prosodically-annotated daughter corpus: SPICE-Ireland. He has given numerous papers on dialectology and corpus linguistics throughout the world and published extensively on all his areas of interest.