Edited by Michaela Mahlberg and Gavin Brookes
[International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 26:4] 2021
► pp. 498–531
This paper presents an annotation approach to examine uncertainty in British and German newspaper articles on the coronavirus pandemic. We develop a tagset in an interdisciplinary team from corpus linguistics and sociology. After working out a gold standard on a pilot corpus, we apply the annotation to the entire corpus drawing on an “annotation-by-query” approach in CQPWeb, based on uncertainty constructions that have been extracted from the gold standard data. The annotated data are then evaluated and sociologically contextualised. On this basis, we study the development of uncertainty markers in the period under study and compare media discourses in Germany and the UK. Our findings reflect the different courses of the pandemic in Germany and the UK as well as the different political responses, media traditions and cultural concerns: While markers of fear are more important in British discourse, we see a steadily increasing level of disagreement in German discourse. Other forms of uncertainty such as ‘possibility’ or ‘probability’ are similarly frequent in both discourses.