A tool among others
The corpus was, is and will be a valuable tool that helps pursuing a goal. Its ontological status as a tool will not change, no matter how fabulous the computational power, storage capacity, access and transmission speed, and whatever the size of the corpus. The corpus is a data source among others (namely grammaticality judgements), which has specific advantages and limitations that the user needs to be aware of – like for any other tool.Drowned in the ambient utilitarianism and project-hysteria, many people believe, overtly or tacitly (or without being aware that they do), that research which involves the building of a corpus coupled with exploitation by a "powerful" computer programme, is more serious than a competitor which does not. Some even believe that the whole purpose of a research project may be the creation of a corpus, and that the corpus will produce science by itself, i.e. substitute itself to reasoning and the data-expectation dialectic. The same ideology promotes the idea that whatever scientific statement is made, it needs to be statistically relevant. This is where the corpus stops being a tool, i.e. where the system goes mad. And it did on a large scale in the past decade or so. Poor corpora are in the middle of this thunderstorm, and are abundantly abused by the ideology in place.
Scheer, T. (2013). The corpus: A tool among others. Corela 13 (HS), pp. n/a.
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