Who's got the cash?

December 17, 2004

Scots language researchers at Glasgow University have won more than £300,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Board to develop a major electronic archive.

The Scottish Corpus of Texts and Speech (Scots) project, which won an initial £160,000 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, aims to capture written, spoken, audio and video texts in Scotland's languages. Scots has just gone live on the web (www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk) with 400 texts containing half a million words from all walks of life.

Researcher Wendy Anderson said the Scots team had set itself a target of 4 million words by the end of the three-year funding period. A vital task will now be to trawl through newspapers and broadcasts to find examples of how words are used.

Dr Anderson said: "Scots is flexible for research into questions of word survival and regional distribution, and it features of grammar and pronunciation.

"For example, we're interested in the currency of distinctively Scottish words, such as "canny" (prudent) and "braw" (excellent). They are often used to stereotype the people of Scotland, but are they actually still used? By whom? Where? In what contexts?"

John Corbett, the principal investigator, said the EPSRC funded the initial research in collaboration with Edinburgh University's language technology group to create an electronic search mechanism for words where the spelling could vary. The word "abune" (which means above), for example, might also be spelled "abone" or "abeen".

As a flourishing project, Scots then successfully bid for AHRB resource-enhancement funding to develop its work further.

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