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LINGUIST 4D03 Computers&Linguistic Analysis (C01)

Academic Year: Fall 2019

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Vincent Porretta


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 511

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27368

Office Hours: Mondays 11-12 (TSH 511)

Course Objectives:

The objective of this course is to become familiar with using corpora as an object of linguistic inquiry and to become proficient in computational tools/techniques for answering corpus linguistic research questions. Students will be trained in conceptual and practical aspects of corpus research, as well as text-processing, statistical, and computational skills using R. By the end of the course, students will be able to develop research questions relevant to corpus linguistics, gather and statistically analyze data, and prepare texts for state-of-the-art computational analysis.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Readings and necessary (free) software will be provided to the students. A laptop computer is strongly recommended.

Method of Assessment:

This is a hands-on course. Students learn by attending and participating in lectures and lab sessions, and by completing the assigned readings and assignments. There will be one midterm exam and a final research project. The evaluation criteria and weights are:

5% - Attendance, participation, and completion of in-class assignments

40% - Homework assignments (for due dates, please see course schedule)

20% - Midterm (Oct. 22)

35% - Final research project (TBA)

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Assignments submitted within 48 hours of the due date are subject to a 25% penalty. Assignments submitted 2 to 7 days after the due date are subject to a 50% penalty. Assignments are not accepted more than 7 days after the due date.

Exceptions to due dates and exam dates can be made only with appropriate documentation. Please review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar “Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work”.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:




HW/Reading Due


Sept. 3




Sept. 10

Online corpora, R basic review

Reading 1/Assignment 1


Sept. 17

Corpus searches, String processing

Assignment 2


Sept. 24

Corpus research questions, Working with data

Reading 2/Assignment 3


Oct. 1

Corpus linguistics

Assignment 4


Oct. 8

Quantitiative methods

Reading 3


Oct. 15

No class (Reading week)

Assignment 5


Oct. 22

Midterm, Intro to Quanteda



Oct. 29

Quanteda 1



Nov. 5

Quanteda 2

Assignment 6


Nov. 12

Universal Dependencies Schema

Reading 4/Assignment 7


Nov. 19

Sentiment analysis

Reading 5/Assignment 8


Nov. 26

Topic modeling

Reading 6/Assignment 9


Dec. 3


Assignment 10

Other Course Information:

The instructor reserves the right to modify elements of the course during the term. If modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. It is the responsibility of the student to check their McMaster email and course website weekly during the term and to note any changes.