COBUILD: a research that changed the world

Posted on Friday 20th June 2014

In the year that the University has been named The Times and Sunday Times University of the Year, staff, students and alumni were encouraged to nominate Birmingham’s research heroes and identify the top ten researches that have had a global impact.

One of the winners is the research carried out by COBUILD (Collins Birmingham University International Language Database) has transformed the study of English across the globe by a radical and highly innovative use of corpus-linguistic technologies to analyse computationally multi-million-word databases of the English language.

The research facility was set up in 1980 and funded by Collins publishers. Led by Professor John Sinclair, the COBUILD team’s original approach to the description of English influenced the design and use of dictionaries, grammars of English and course materials. It has since led to revolutionary approaches to linguistic theory and practice.COBUILD’s impact has been world-wide: there is no approach to English language description and use today that can ignore the profound and seminal effects of the facility’s research.