Presentation on theme: "What is VOICE? VOICE, the Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English, is a structured collection of language data, the first computer-readable corpus."— Presentation transcript:
What is VOICE? VOICE, the Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English, is a structured collection of language data, the first computer-readable corpus capturing spoken ELF interactions of this kind.
Corpus Description VOICE comprises naturally occurring, non- scripted and mostly face-to-face conversations in English as a lingua franca (ELF). The recordings made for VOICE are keyboarded by trained transcribers and stored in a computerized corpus.( In the language sciences a corpus is a body of written text or transcribed speech which can serve as a basis for linguistic analysis and description).
The aim of the VOICE project is to open the way for a large-scale and in-depth linguistic description of the most common contemporary use of English by providing a corpus of spoken ELF interactions which will be accessible to linguistic researchers all over the world. As a first target, VOICE aims to cover 1 million words of spoken ELF interactions, equalling approximately 140 hours of transcribed speech.spoken ELF
The speakers recorded in VOICE are fairly fluent ELF speakers from a wide range of first language backgrounds. So far, VOICE includes approximately 800 ELF speakers with 50 different first languages (disregarding varieties of the respective languages). In the initial phase, VOICE focuses mainly, but by no means exclusively, on European ELF speakers. The ELF interactions recorded cover a variety of different settings (professional, educational, informal), functions (exchanging information, enacting social relationships), participants' roles and relationships (acquainted vs. unacquainted, symmetrical vs. asymmetrical).
Jennifer Jenkins and Barbara Seidlhofer suggest how the results of new research into how 'non-native' speakers of English use the language must change the way it is taught.( Jenkins: handout) Seidlhofer has been compiling a corpus of interactions in English among fairly fluent speakers from a variety of first-language backgrounds. In her analyses of a variety of interactions such as casual conversations and academic discussions, no major disruptions in communication happened when speakers committed one or more of the following deadly "grammatical sins":
Unproblematic: using the same form for all present tense verbs, as in 'you look very sad' and 'he look very sad' not putting a definite or indefinite article in front of nouns, as in "our countries have signed agreement about this" treating "who" and "which" as interchangeable relative pronouns, as in "the picture who..." or "a person which" using just the verb stem in constructions such as "I look forward to see you tomorrow" using "isn't it?" as a universal tag question (ie instead of "haven't they?" and "shouldn't he?"), as in "They've finished their dinner now, isn't it?".
Result: What the analyses of ELF interactions suggest is that the time needed to teach and learn these constructions bears very little relationship to their actual usefulness, as successful communication is obviously possible without them.
The first suggestion: the need to encourage both teachers and students to adjust their attitudes towards ELFE. Even those who strongly support the development of a continental European hybrid variety of English that does not look to Britain or America for its standards of correctness, reveal a degree of schizophrenia in this respect. For example Charlotte Hoffman has described the English of European learners as spanning "the whole range from non-fluent to native-like", as though fluency in English were not a possibility for those whose speech does not mimic that of a native speaker.
The second suggestion it is crucial for English language teaching in Europe to focus on contexts of use that are relevant to European speakers of English. In particular, descriptions of spoken English offered to these learners should not be grounded in British or American uses of English but in ELFE or other non-native contexts.
Conclusion English is an international language and as such no longer the preserve of its native speakers. If English is indeed a lingua franca, then it should be possible to describe it as such without prejudice. And that may well be the biggest challenge for ELFE in the 21st Century.