The Survey of English Usage
Annual Report 1998

1. General

1998 was an excellent year for the Survey. We completed two major projects: the British component of the International Corpus of English (ICE-GB) and the Internet Grammar of English (IGE). We also released a fully indexed compilation of English grammars entitled Landmarks of English Grammar: the Eighteenth Century. Details follow.


We were very pleased to announce the release of the ICE-GB corpus last autumn. ICE-GB is the first of the subcorpora of the wider International Corpus of English to be completed. As most readers will know, ICE-GB is a one million word corpus which has been completely tagged and parsed. It is now available from the Survey on CD-ROM, and is supplied with the innovative ICECUP (ICE Corpus Utility Program) search software which makes use of Fuzzy Tree Fragments (FTFs) (see below). A Getting Started Manual is provided, and further help is available in extensive documentation on the CD-ROM itself. For those who wish to have a taste of what ICE-GB can do we have installed a Sample Corpus on the Web which allows for a free download of the integral ICECUP programme, together with ten ICE-GB texts (20,000 words).

A project like this cannot be completed without the help of a great number of people. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the many colleagues and research assistants who have advised us or worked with us over the years. Among them are

Celine Bijleveld, Judith Broadbent, Justin Buckley, John Campbell, Brian Davies, Tony Dodd, Alex Fang, Ken Fletcher, Yanka Gavin, Marie Gibney, Howard Gregory, David Elkan, Isaac Hallegua, Jasper Holmes, Mark Huckvale, Robert Ilson, Gunther Kaltenböck, Neil Morgenstern, Ine Mortelmans, Sue Peppe, Yibin Ni, René Quinault, Randolph Quirk, And Rosta, Oonagh Sayce, Laura Tollfree, Ian Warner, Jonathan White, Richard Wilson and Vlad Zegarac.

We would also like to thank Nick Porter and Akiva Quinn, who worked on an earlier version of ICECUP, and the TOSCA Research Group at the University of Nijmegen, under the directorship of Professor Jan Aarts, who provided the tagging and parsing software. In particular, we wish to thank Nelleke Oostdijk and Hans van Halteren.

We are grateful for financial support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), under grants R000 23 2077 and R000 22 2598 and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), under grant GR/K75033.

The completion of ICE-GB would never have been possible without Gerry Nelson. He has been involved with, and dedicated to, the project since its inception, and has generously given his time, even when he was `officially' working on other projects, such as IGE. The Survey is especially grateful to him.


The Internet Grammar of English project came to an end last summer and is now live on the World Wide Web ( For a limited period it will be freely available. Judging by the statistics we keep of who logs in, and from where, the site has been very popular, with hits from some 80 countries. IGE is available on CD-ROM for those who want to avoid telephone costs and possible long download times.

The IGE project was funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee under grant JTAP 2/247.

You may also wish to have a look at IGE's sister project, WWW Corpora at the University of Essex. The URL is:

English Grammars on CD-ROM

Landmarks in English Grammar: the Eighteenth Century is a collection of five classic eighteenth century grammars of English. They are bundled on a single CD ROM, which is now available from the Survey, together with a copy of Acrobat Reader, the software used to view the texts.

The texts in this collection have been chosen for their importance in the history of English grammar. The collection consists of:

Charles Gildon & John Brightland, A Grammar of the English Tongue, 1711
Joseph Priestley, Rudiments of English Grammar, 1761
Robert Lowth, A Short Introduction to English Grammar, 1762
John Ash, Grammatical Institutes, 1763
Lindley Murray, English Grammar, 1795

Each page has been optically scanned from an original edition, usually the first. You can read the scanned pages just as you would read the original printed version, or you can use the contents list, which contains hypertext links to each chapter or section. For more precise searching, a comprehensive index allows you to find grammatical terms, citations from writers such as Swift, Pope, Addison and Steele, topics of contemporary interest, such as "correctness", "usage", "English and Latin compared", and the "simplicity" of English.

For more information, click here.

2. Research

Continuing Projects

ICE GB would not have been possible without the computer software to support it. ICECUP, the ICE Corpus Utility Program, has been through a number of generations and authors, to reach its present form. ICECUP III was designed, from the outset, to support parsed corpora both in their production and in their exploration.

The Survey's programmer, Sean Wallis, has been developing ICECUP for over a year (supported by the ESRC) during which time he developed the Fuzzy Tree Fragments (FTFs) system for forming grammatical queries. The idea is quite simple. In order to find a particular grammatical construction in the corpus the user 'draws' a rough tree using an editor. When the program searches the corpus, it presents the results in a window, showing how the fuzzy tree matches each case in the corpus. This allows us to provide facilities for tree based concordancing. ICECUP is designed with a 'hands on', experimental philosophy. All searches that take a significant amount of time operate 'in the background', and may be interrupted and continued later. The results of a search are available for browsing as soon as they are found, and queries may be quickly refined and reapplied. ICECUP also provides a 'Wizard' facility that constructs a new FTF from a tree in the corpus, so that even beginners can produce complex queries.

We released version 3.0 of ICECUP together with the ICE-GB corpus on CD ROM and, as mentioned above, it is also available from our website in the 'Sample Corpus download' package.

Sean Wallis is currently working on version 3.1, which will be available soon via our website. Version 3.1 will include more flexible FTFs and new facilities for concordancing with FTFs. Furthermore, it supports synchronised playback of digitized speech which will also be made available with Release 2 of ICE GB. The software allows users to listen to the original recordings on a special CD, follow the transcribed text, and see the full grammatical tree analysis of the sentence at the same time.

Work is also progressing on a handbook to accompany the ICE-GB corpus, to be written by Gerry Nelson, Sean Wallis and Bas Aarts which we hope will be published in Edgar Schneider's series Varieties of English around the world (John Benjamins, Amsterdam).

3. Staff

Justin Buckley left the Survey after the completion of the Internet Grammar of English on which he worked with Gerry Nelson. He is now a successful Web designer for The Guardian.

Marie Gibney continues as the Survey's administrator, though from January 1999 she has been working part-time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Isaac Hallegua works on systems and data management, and takes care of daily backups. He is very much in demand in the US where he travels three to four times a year to work for his previous employer GEC. As ever, his help is highly valued.

Gerry Nelson is working on the ICE-GB handbook and on Release 2 of the ICE-GB corpus. In addition, he is doing grammatical research using the corpus.

René Quinault continues generously to give us a lot of his time. He has been working on the splitting of the text soundfiles in line with the sentence numbering (see above). He has also looked after the Survey book and offprint library and has catered for the needs of visitors.

Sean Wallis is working full-time on ICECUP version 3.1 (see above). He is also working on a new funding proposal for the ESRC.

Jonathan White is working on the digitisation of the spoken Survey texts and is finishing his PhD.

4. Publications, conference presentations, and studies using Survey material

Aarts, Bas (1998) Binominal Noun Phrases in English, Transactions of the Philological Society 96.1, 117-158.

Aarts, Bas, Gerald Nelson and Sean Wallis (1998) Using Fuzzy Tree Fragments to explore English Grammar. English Today 14.3. 52-56.

Aarts, Bas (1998) Lecture series on English syntax at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria.

Aarts, Bas (1998) Constructing text corpora. Paper presented at the Methodology Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London.

Aarts, Bas (1998) Using a corpus. School of Humanities and Cultural Studies, Middlesex University.

Aarts, Bas, and Gerald Nelson (1998) New developments in ICECUP. Paper read at the 19th ICAME conference, Queen's University Belfast.

Aarts, Bas (1998) Global resources for a global language: English language pedagogy in the modern age. Paper read at the conference Teaching and Learning English as a global language: Native and non-native Perspectives. Technische Universität Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany.

Gonzálves García, Francisco (1996) Towards an understanding of the syntax-semantics relationship in English complex transitive complementation. PhD dissertation, University of Bologna - Royal Spanish College.

Gonzálves García, Francisco (1998) A modality view of predicate selection in small clauses. In: Ralph C. Blight and Michelle J. Moosally (eds.), The Syntax and Semantics of Predication, Texas Linguistic Forum 38, Proceedings of the 1997 Texas Linguistics Society Conference. Department of Linguistics: the University of Texas at Austin.

Gonzálves García, Francisco (1998) Complex transitive complementation: from Quirk et al.'s Grammar of contemporary English to the International Corpus of English. In: Martínez Vázquez Montserrat (ed.) Transitivity revisited. Huelva: Huelva University Press. 95-130.

Greenbaum, Sidney and Gerald Nelson (1998) Elliptical Clauses in Speech and Writing, in Peter Collins and David Lee (eds.) The Clause in English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 113 127.

Kaltenböck, Gunther (1998) Extraposition in English discourse: a corpus study. PhD Thesis, University of Vienna.

Koveri, A. (1998) A Study of -ing constructions in present day modern English: the gerund. MA thesis, University College London.

Lavelle, Thomas (1998) Prepositions, propositions and Popper: the problem of verification in corpus linguistics. Paper read at the 19th ICAME conference, Queen's University Belfast.

Lopes da Costa, Maria Cecilia (1998) Raising verbs in English and Portuguese, MPhil Dissertation, Centre for Language and Communication Studies, Trinity College Dublin.

Mah, P. (1998) Here, there, everywhere: a study of there-sentences in context. MA thesis, University College London.

Meyer, Charles F. (1998) Using ICECUP for syntactic analysis. Paper read at the 19th ICAME conference, Queen's University Belfast.

Meyer, Charles F. (1998) Preface. The ICE-GB Getting Started Manual. Survey of English Usage, University College London. 1-3.

Nelson, Gerald and Sean Wallis (1998) The British component of the International Corpus of English. Survey of English Usage. University College London.

Nelson, Gerald (1998) The ICE-GB Getting Started Manual. Survey of English Usage. University College London.

Nelson, Gerald (1998) The Internet Grammar of English. Publication on the World Wide Web ( Survey of English Usage. University College London.

Nelson, Gerald (1998) Landmarks in English Grammar: The Eighteenth Century. Fully indexed CD-ROM. Survey of English Usage. University College London.

Wallis, Sean (1998) Parsing in reverse? Exploring ICE GB with Fuzzy Tree Fragments. Paper read at the 19th ICAME conference, Queen's University Belfast, May 1998.

Wallis, Sean (1998) (with Gerald Nelson and Jonathan White) ICECUP III Help File. Survey of English Usage, University College London.

Please let us know if you would like us to include your publications based on SEU material. We would appreciate it if you sent us offprints of any such publications.

Bas Aarts

February 1999

This page last modified 26 February, 2019 by Survey Web Administrator.