ACE was the first systematically compiled heterogeneous corpus in Australia, designed to support a variety of linguistic research. Interest in the differentiation between Australian, British and American English meant that a corpus modeled on the Brown and LOB corpora would provide ready comparisons. It would also serve as a strategic sample of current Australian English, and as a reference corpus for comparisons with more specialised, homogeneous corpora in Australia.
ACE matches the Brown and LOB corpora in most aspects of its structure and constituency, so that direct interdialectal comparisons can be made on a comparable range of printed genres.
Yet the desire to create an up-to-date corpus of Australian English prompted the decision not to match Brown and LOB chronologically, ie. with data drawn from publications of the early 1960s. Instead, ACE consists of material from 1986. A time difference is therefore inherent in any regional intercomparisons with Brown and LOB, though that may itself be of considerable interest in showing the direction of influence in the latter part of this century. The twenty-five year difference in fact allowed us to match rather more categories of publishing than would have been possible had we attempted to create a retrospective corpus of Australian publications of the 60s (as LOB did). Independent southern hemisphere publishing has increased steadily since World War II, yet even in 1986 the range of locally published novels was limited and insufficient for the quota required by the Brown/LOB model. It was topped up with a higher proportion of extracts from short stories than were used in the model corpora.
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