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Tertium Comparationis: A vital component in contrastive research methodology

AuthorsConnor, Ulla; Moreno, Ana I.
KeywordsTertium comparationis
Contrastive analysis
Comparable corpora
Contrastive rhetoric
Similarity constraints
Discourse analysis
Genre analysis
Research methodology
Issue Date2005
PublisherMultilingual Matters
CitationIn P. Bruthiaux, D. Atkinson, W. G. Eggington, W. Grabe, & V. Ramanathan (eds), Directions in Applied Linguistics: Essays in Honor of Robert B. Kaplan. Clevedon, pp. 153-164. England: Multilingual Matters.
AbstractIn contrastive rhetoric research the concept of tertium comparationis or common platform of comparison is important at all levels of the design: in identifying texts for building comparable corpora, selecting textual concepts to be examined across the corpora, and identifying and distinguishing between different types of linguistic resources used to realize these concepts. The present paper proposes a model of contrastive rhetoric research that starts with building comparable corpora on the basis of relevant similarity constraints or factors (e.g. the genre, subject matter, the level of writers’ expertise, etc.) that might affect the expression of the textual concept(s) under comparison. Then the model proposes to establish common ground not only on the text functional and conceptual level but also on the text realization level for an adequate match of any two data sets before meaningful quantitative comparisons can take place. This kind of rigorous design is needed so that we can first have good baseline descriptions of given genres within given cultures and languages before we can compare and contrast features of those genres across cultures and languages. Using a study by Moreno (1998), we explain how such corpus-based quantitative studies can be designed and conducted with appropriate tertia comparationis from the corpus collection phase to the final analysis and interpretation.
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