The first director of the Strathy Language Unit, W.C. Lougheed, was determined that the unit's research on Canadian English have a strong descriptive base. To that end, and with great technological foresight, he began to build a corpus of Canadian English, a planned sample of authentic language, in the early 1980s, stored as an electronic database. The original organizational scheme was based on the Brown-LOB Corpora.
Today the Strathy Corpus contains around 60 million words of written and spoken Canadian English. It includes newspapers, magazines, biographies, historical writings, academic theses and journals, transcripts of university classes, Internet news, and so on. Canadian authors who have generously allowed their fictional and nonfictional texts to be entered into the database include Margaret Atwood, Max Braithwaite, J.K. Chambers, Robertson Davies, Eugene Forsey and Makeda Silvera.
Publishers who have made use of the Strathy Corpus in creating Canadian English dictionaries include Oxford University Press, Thomson-Nelson (formerly Gage) and HarperCollins. Students of language and researchers in linguistics and lexicography are welcome to visit the unit and use the Strathy Corpus. Remote access to the corpus is currently by special arrangement only.
The Strathy Corpus is continually being updated. We are currently focusing on expansion of the corpus in two areas: transcriptions of natural speech and informal writings. In the future, we plan to link the transcriptions to audio files and to begin syntactic annotation of the corpus.
The aim of this new recording project is to collect audio data from Canadian English speakers representing a diverse range of regions and backgrounds. Check back for details as the project progresses.
The unit produces the Guide to Canadian English Usage and publishes two regular paper series: Strathy Occasional Papers on Canadian English, and Strathy Undergraduate Working Papers on Canadian English. Click here to visit the Publications page.
The unit provides support for an undergraduate course on Canadian English, LING202, offered through the Linguistics Program.
The unit maintains a collection of reference materials on various aspects of English usage.
We are currently compiling a bibliography of writings on Canadian English, which will be accessible on the website via a searchable interface by spring 2011. After its release, we will continue to monitor the literature for additions to the bibliography, and we will begin the process of selectively annotating the entries.
A number of researchers have made use of unit resources for their projects. One recent project was the 2010 Dictionary of Canadian English [English-English, English-Chinese], a collaboration between Dr. Xu Hai, professor at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies and a 2003-2004 visiting scholar of the Strathy Language Unit, and former Strathy Director Janice McAlpine.
The unit offers competitive travel grants for undergraduate and graduate students at Queen's University presenting research on Canadian English. Grants are available to students in any discipline whose work examines or highlights some aspect of the structure or usage of the English language in Canada. You can download an application in pdf (46 KB) or in Word (21 KB) format.
The unit offers competitive research travel grants for undergraduate and graduate students at Queen's University undertaking research on Canadian English. Grants are available to students in any discipline who approach the topic from any theoretical perspective, but the research must focus on some aspect of the structure or usage of the English language in Canada. Click here for more information, or download a preliminary application in pdf (25 KB) or in Word (19 KB).
There is much exciting work yet to be done on many aspects of Canadian English. We endeavor to spread the word and encourage scholarship, for example by giving talks, publishing research, launching new projects, and serving as a general resource to the public.
Past projects the unit has been involved with include assisting with revisions to the Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles and organizing conferences, such as English Dictionaries in Global and Historical Context, held at Queen's in June 2010.