Stay tuned for details of this exciting new collaborative project!
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 50 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.
The Strathy Corpus of Canadian English is available online in two different formats. Anyone can search the corpus at English-Corpora.org where it is hosted alongside other English corpora including the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) and the British National Corpus (BNC). Researchers who would like to download a full digital copy of the corpus can request access through Borealis. (You will need to create an account and follow the instructions associated with the dataset.)
The unit is undertaking a recording project to collect oral stories by Canadian English speakers from a variety of different backgrounds. We are transcribing the recordings and creating an audio archive to be used by researchers for the study of sociolinguistic variation.
Our current efforts are focused on Wolfe Island, Ontario in collaboration with the Wolfe Island Historical Society. We have recorded approximately 100 interviews with residents and have been treated to many wonderful stories of Island life and history.
The unit produces the Guide to Canadian English Usage and publishes two regular paper series: Strathy Occasional Papers on Canadian English, and Strathy Student 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 topics including Canadian English, sociolinguistics, English usage and global Englishes.
The unit maintains an online bibliography of Canadian English resources, first launched in 2011 and currently at over 2300 references.
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 two types of grants for Queen's students pursuing research on Canadian English.
Strathy Student Research Grants are competitive research grants for undergraduate and graduate students from any discipline conducting research on some aspect of the structure or usage of the English language in Canada. You can visit this page for more information or download a preliminary application in pdf (25 KB) or in Word (19 KB).
Strathy Student Conference Grants are competitive conference travel grants available to undergraduate and graduate students from any discipline whose work examines 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).
There is much exciting work yet to be done on many aspects of Canadian English. We endeavour 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 and Change and Variation in Canada 8.