Edited by Alexandra U. Esimaje, Ulrike Gut and Bassey E. Antia
[Studies in Corpus Linguistics 88] 2019
► pp. 373–400
Corpus analysis has become established as an approach to the study of language description or for applied pursuits in language teaching, terminology, and so on. However, because of the social indexicalities of language use, corpora can also inform studies of social phenomena. This chapter draws on social semiotics to argue that, in the analysis of social phenomena, meanings that are socially significant can be read not only from what is said in corpora, but also from a range of other resources, such as names of persons and places as well as language choices made in texts. This chapter thus uses two heuristics, onomastics and discursive mono-/multilingualism, to query a diachronic corpus associated with a South African political party for evidence of whether or not the party has over time become more inclusive, contrary to its discursive positioning by a rival party as an untransformed organisation. The analysis shows evidence of the party opening up to diversity in terms of race, gender, geography, and language choice, but the finding raises the question of the relationship between semiotic evidence and reality.