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Oxford English Corpus

The Oxford English Corpus (OEC) is a text corpus of 21st-century English, used by the makers of the Oxford English Dictionary and by Oxford University Press' language research programme. It is the largest corpus of its kind, containing nearly 2.1 billion words.[1] It includes language from the UK, the United States, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, Canada, India, Singapore, and South Africa.[2] The text is mainly collected from web pages; some printed texts, such as academic journals, have been collected to supplement particular subject areas.[2] The sources are writings of all sorts, from "literary novels and specialist journals to everyday newspapers and magazines and from Hansard to the language of blogs, emails, and social media".[2] This may be contrasted with similar databases that sample only a specific kind of writing. The corpus is generally available only to researchers at Oxford University Press, but other researchers who can demonstrate a strong need may apply for access.[2][3]

The digital version of the Oxford English Corpus is formatted in XML and usually analysed with Sketch Engine software.[4] By April 27, 2006, the dictionary database had 1 billion words. [5]

Each document in the OE Corpus is accompanied by metadata including:

  • title
  • author (if known; many websites make this difficult to determine reliably)
  • author gender (if known)
  • language type (e.g. British English, American English)
  • source website
  • year (+ date, if known)
  • date of collection
  • domain + subdomain
  • document statistics (number of tokens, sentences, etc.)[4]

See also


  1. ^ "The Oxford English Corpus". Sketch Engine. Lexical Computing CZ s.r.o. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d "The Oxford English Corpus". Oxford Dictionaries Online. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 1 January 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  3. ^ "Compare COCA". Corpus of Contemporary American English. Archived from the original on 7 November 2014. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  4. ^ a b The Oxford English Corpus. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  5. ^ "Dictionary database has billion words". Northwest Herald. 27 April 2006. p. 2. Retrieved 15 March 2020 – via

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Oxford English Corpus
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