What is British National Corpus?

The British National Corpus (BNC) is a 100-million-word collection of samples of a written and spoken language of British English from the later part of the 20th century.

The BNC consists of the bigger written part (90 %, e.g. newspapers, academic books, letters, essays, etc.) and the smaller spoken part (remaining 10 %, e.g. informal conversations, radio shows, etc.). The spoken part is also available in the audio format.

The corpus texts contain a large amount of information and thus each user can use many search criteria as a time of publication, region captured spoken text, type of media and text domain, or the David Lee’s classification – a detailed genre specification. The full list of genres of this classification is here.

The official website: http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/

Content in detailed

See graphs and more information about texts in the British National Corpus.

Distribution of parts of speech

Further information about texts in the corpus

Basic information

Frequency*
Tokens 112 346
Words 96 135
Sentences 6 052
Documents 4

* the figures above are rounded to thousand

Distribution of text types


* demographic texts were selected considering the socio-economic class

* context-governed were selected considering the textual category (business, educational, leisure, public/institutional)

Distribution of publication dates

Tools to work with British National Corpus

A complete set of Sketch Engine tools is available to work with British National Corpus to generate:

  • word sketch – English collocations categorized by grammatical relations
  • thesaurus – synonyms and similar words for every word
  • word lists – lists of English nouns, verbs, adjectives etc. organized by frequency
  • n-grams – frequency list of multi-word units
  • concordance – examples in context
  • trends – diachronic analysis automatically identifies neologisms and changes in use

Part-of-speech tagsets in BNC

Sketch Engine offers BNC tagged with the 2 different POS tagsets:

  • tagset used in the CLAWS POS tagger version 5 with specific attributes:
    • ambtag: the ambivalent part of speech tag (all tags before disambiguation)
    • pos: one-letter abbreviation of the part of speech (the second part of lempos)

Changelog

v2.2.1 (5th April 2017)

  • retagged with the TreeTagger pipeline version 2.1

v2.2 (1st February 2017)

  • retagged with the TreeTagger pipeline version 2

v2.0 (8th November 2010)

  • replaced SGML entities (such as " with correspondent Unicode characters)
  • added tags (spoken texts)

Bibliographic references

How to reference Sketch Engine

  • The British National Corpus, version 3 (BNC XML Edition). 2007. Distributed by Oxford University Computing Services on behalf of the BNC Consortium. URL: http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/
  • Reference Guide for the British National Corpus (XML Edition) edited by Lou Burnard, February 2007. URL: http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/XMLedition/URG/
  • The British National Corpus, version 2 (BNC World). 2001. Distributed by Oxford University Computing Services on behalf of the BNC Consortium. URL: http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/
  • The British National Corpus Users Reference Guide edited by Lou Burnard, October 2000. URL: http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/archive/index.xml
  • The BNC Baby, version 2. 2005. Distributed by Oxford University Computing Services on behalf of the BNC Consortium. URL: http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/
  • The BNC Sampler, XML version. 2005. Distributed by Oxford University Computing Services on behalf of the BNC Consortium. URL: http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/

Data from the BNCOur policy is to request that citations from the British National Corpus should include the text identifier (a 3 letter code) and sentence number. A suitable form of words for crediting the BNC would be:

  • “Examples of usage taken from the British National Corpus (BNC) were obtained under the terms of the BNC End User Licence. Copyright in the individual texts cited resides with the original IPR holders. For information and licensing conditions relating to the BNC, please see the web site at http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk “
  • or: “Data cited herein have been extracted from the British National Corpus, distributed by Oxford University Computing Services on behalf of the BNC Consortium. All rights in the texts cited are reserved.”

Search the British National Corpus

Sketch Engine offers a range of tools to work with the British National Corpus.

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