International Computer Archive of Modern and Medieval English

The history of ICAME
The First ICAME Conference, Bergen 1979

What we count as the first ICAME conference was originally a symposium arranged in preparation for the grammatical tagging of the LOB Corpus. The 1979 symposium was attended by 37 participants from 10 countries. A variety of topics were taken up, but most of the papers dealt with aspects of the grammatical tagging of electronic corpora; a brief account is given in ICAME News 3 (1979), pp. 9-14.

The proceedings were audio-recorded on reel-to-reel tape by Knut Hofland. The recordings have been digitised, and three of the contributions are made available here. Although there is some reference to handouts which are not reproduced, the talks should be readily understandable.

Randolph Quirk gave an introductory lecture, which was open to a wider audience, on ‘The place of corpus study in English language research’. The reference to Professor Sundby is in recognition of the fact that he was the holder at the time of the chair in English linguistics at the University of Bergen. Quirk’s paper discusses general aspects of corpora, with particular reference to the corpus of the Survey of English Usage: the case for using corpora, considerations in corpus building, the importance of total accountability, corpora and elicitation, etc.

The contribution by W. Nelson Francis deals with the relevance of corpora in general, but in particular with considerations in compiling and developing the Brown Corpus. Special attention is paid to grammatical tagging. The reference in the beginning of the talk to ‘The Fulton County Grand Jury …’ echoes the opening of the first text of the Brown Corpus.

Geoffrey Leech did not present a formal paper. What is recorded here are his spontaneous remarks on the use and relevance of electronic corpora. It is especially significant that he looks ahead to what might happen in the future.