Thursday, April 2, 2009

Task 5 - All About Concordance

Dear all,

For this week, we are required to write about "Concordance". Sounds familiar to you? Or not? Well, I heard this word for the first time during the lecture given by Mr. Dr. to be, who is Mr. Affendi on concordance. After he explained then I figure out what concordance is. From my understanding, "Concordance" is a list of each word that is contained either in a short story, a poem, a novel, an article, lyrics, etc. I used to call it "index" because that is what they wrote in few pages of the book at the back. It's very useful and seriously, before this I've never been bothered on how on earth they do that. It's a LOT of work to list out and to count each and every word.Photobucket Concordancing a poem is still okay if we want to do it manually, but can you imagine to do a concordance for a novel? How stressful it is. It is such a waste we are not introduced to concordancing software before we did our assignment on analysing the 10 e-mails. It is because it's easier to analyse and can get an accurate data compare to do it normally which I spent hours just to count some frequently used words in the e-mail. Well, the good side of it is, now, I am fully understand why they say it is very difficult to do a concordance in the pre-computer era.Photobucket

If you want a clearer meaning, "Concordance" is an alphabetical arrangement of the principal words contained in a book, with citations of the passages in which they occur, (OED). I took this from an article on concordance from here.

It is one of the article that I read in order to complete the fifth posting besides getting more information regarding concordance. Concordancer is very useful in analysing:
  • Allows us to see every place in a text where a particular word is used
  • Detect patterns of usage
  • Marshal evidence for an argument
  • Detecting patterns of meaning
Sounds like very useful to language students and linguists. But, I was a bit shocked that as being told by Datin Dr. Norizan in the tutorial, concordancer is also used by the military to read messages.Photobucket They hire linguists to study or analyse the pattern of words in newspaper for example, to figure out the hidden meaning in it. This is how a concordancer looks like:

According to wikipedia, usage of concordance in linguistics are:
  • comparing different usages of the same word
  • analysing keywords
  • analysing word frequencies
  • finding and analysing phrases and idioms
  • finding translations of subsentential elements, e.g. terminology in bitexts and translation memories
  • creating indexes and word lists (also useful for publishing)
In the lecture, the term KWIC is also mentioned. KWIC is an acronym for Key Word In Context, the most common format for concordance lines. A KWIC index is formed by sorting and aligning the words within an article title to allow each word (except the stop words) in titles to be searchable alphabetically in the index. It was a useful indexing method for technical manuals before computerized full text search became common.

In my view, it is obvious enough that concordance is very useful for both language learners and language teachers. Language is very complicated and we can obtain a lot of things just by analysing a text. For example, for laguage teachers, especially in secondary school. They have to mark the essays for the whole class, which normally consists of 30 to 37 students every week. Well, that is one class only, what if the teachers have more than one class?Photobucket By using a concordancer, it will lift the burden on the teachers' shoulders. I'm not saying that the concordancer will do the essay marking. But at least, the teachers can know the usage of words, like their vocabulary, spelling and even the gist of the essays' content by using concordancer.

That's all from me on concordance. Till the next post.Photobucket


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