About the Survey of English Usage

The Survey of English Usage carries out research in English language Corpus Linguistics, and was the first centre in Europe to undertake this type of research. From its inception in 1959, the Survey collected samples of naturally-occurring language for the purposes of description and analysis.

See our history pages and commentary from some well-known Survey alumni.

Corpus Linguistics is the study of naturally-occurring language structure and use by first collecting samples of spoken or written language and second, analysing these samples.

The first corpus projects predated cheap computer power and mass storage. The original Survey corpus was first recorded on reel-to-reel Revox tape recorders, transcribed by hand, and then typed up, stored and annotated on paper cards (above, right).

The advent of modern desktop computing has completely changed all that. Recent major corpus projects, such as ICE-GB and DCPSE, were digitised, transcribed, annotated and indexed on computers. We have developed software tools to help us undertake this work and, partly as a result, the range of possible annotation has grown in sophistication.

Once such a resource is constructed, what can you do with it? A significant theme in our current research concerns how best one may exploit computerised corpora for linguistic purposes.

Our current and recent projects are summarised on our Research Projects pages while the results of research, including reference material, downloadable software/corpora and software sales are available from the Resources pages. Survey staff pages are also available on this site.

This page last modified 14 May, 2020 by Survey Web Administrator.