British Academic Spoken English (BASE) corpus

The project enhances the British Academic Spoken English (BASE) corpus, which functions as a companion to the Michigan Corpus of Spoken Academic English (MICASE), a record of North American academic speech.

The corpus enables, amongst other things, the investigation of:
(i) the frequency and range of academic lexis;
(ii) the meaning and use of individual words and multi-word units;
(iii) the information structure and thematic structure of academic lectures;
(iv) the pace, density and delivery styles of academic lectures;
(v) patterns of interaction, including turn-taking and topic selection in seminars;
(vi) the representation of ideas and the expression of attitudes;
(vii) variation between British and American academic speech.

BASE will remain a record of British spoken academic discourse at the turn of the century, and may also be compared with corpora compiled in the future to investigate diachronic change in academic language use.

Principal investigator
Dr Hilary Nesi
Principal project staff
Dr Hilary Nesi; Dr Paul Thompson
Start date
Saturday, June 1, 2002
Completion date
Wednesday, June 1, 2005
Source material
The 200 speech events in the corpus were recorded between October 1998 and March 2005. All but two of the recordings were made on campus at either the University of Warwick or the University of Reading. The events were divided into two broad categories: ‘lectures’, which are primarily monologic and were designated as ‘lectures’ by the academic staff involved, and ‘seminars’, which are primarily group discussions and/or student presentations and were variously designated as ‘seminars’, ‘tutorials’, ‘meetings’, ‘teamwork events’ and ‘academic half days’ by the academic staff involved. Events were sampled across four broad disciplinary groupings: Arts, Social Sciences, Life Sciences and Physical Sciences. Forty lectures and ten seminars were recorded in each of these groupings; 51 different departments are represented. All the participants consented to the recordings and to their use as corpus data.

Nesi, Hilary. “A corpus-based analysis of academic lectures across disciplines.” In Language Across Boundaries: BAAL 2000 Proceedings, edited by J. Cotterill, J. and A. Ife, London: Continuum Press, 2001.

Nesi, Hilary. “An English spoken academic word list.” In Proceedings of the Tenth EURALEX International Congress, Volume I, edited by A. Braasch and C. Provlsen, Copenhagen: Center for Sprogteknologi, 2002.