chapter  4
Corpus research and grammar
Pages 24

In the context of our discussion of lexis in Chapter 3, we observed that corpus research has led to quite radical insights into the nature and role of lexis in communication and, most importantly for this chapter, fresh insights into the relationship between lexis and grammar. As we turn our attention to grammar, we will see that corpus research presents challenges to traditional orthodoxy in this domain too. Challenges to orthodoxy in the domain of grammar are, as Hughes (2010) observes, particularly sensitive since teachers often nurture deeply-held convictions about the importance of grammar, as well as strong attachments to traditional, prescriptive ‘rules’ about the ‘correct’ use of grammar. The descriptive and probabilistic ‘rules’ which often emerge from corpus research to cast doubt on the veracity of deterministic rules can, then, be unsettling for those attached to a straightforward correct/incorrect dichotomy in relation to grammar.