Using an AD-HOC corpus to write about emerging technologies for technical writing and translation: The case of search engine optimization

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Technical writers and translators struggle with language consistency in emerging technologies. Corpus linguistics can track language structures in such quickly developing environments. An ad-hoc corpus may be the tool needed for technical communicators. Key concepts: Mega-corpora versus ad-hoc corpora: The term 'mega-corpora' typically covers the existing national corpora, whereas ad-hoc corpora can be created quickly for technical communication. Variation versus consistency: variation covers the range of possible solutions compared to the need for consistency of terminology in given contexts. Representativeness versus adequacy: representativeness defines the possibility of variation within the scope of the field; in contrast , adequacy represents contextual suitability. Key lessons: To use ad-hoc corpora as a tool for keeping track of and understanding language variation in texts about emerging technology: (1) design and compile a small set of relevant descriptions regarding the emerging technology, (2) use the software corpus tool representation of corpora to evaluate whether the ad-hoc corpus is representative - meaning that adding new texts does not add new words or variations in terminology use, (3) use the software corpus tool AntConc to analyze the ad-hoc corpus finding concordance patterns and variation in terminology usage, and (4) use linguistic strategies for selecting terminology based on linguistic evidence rather than intuition. Implications for practice: The ad-hoc corpus method offers an evidence-based approach for determining patterns of terminology. This method can be applied to standardizing product documentation or tracking variations in language use and can help technical writers and translators keep track of evolving terminology for emerging technologies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalI E E E Transactions on Professional Communication
Volume57
Issue1
Pages (from-to)56-74
Number of pages19
ISSN0361-1434
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Research areas

  • Ad-hoc corpora, AntConc, controlled language, corpus linguistics, representation of corpora (ReCor), search engine optimization (SEO), technical communication, translation

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