Building your own corpus – sorting body idioms

In my continuing and vain efforts to be associated with great bloggers this post could be said to be inspired by Matt Halsdorff/@MattHalsdorff’s post on native speaker use of idioms. 😉

The sort command in a concordance is one of the simplest yet most powerful features in identifying patterns. The following is a screenshot after a search on the word “face”:


Compare the above with the screenshot below which is sorted alphabetically by the word to the left of “face”:


The sort allows us to clearly see two groupings of about face and let’s face it.

The most common body idiom in my corpus is head (on) (over) to which occurs 165 times. Other body idioms in this corpus incude keep an eye on; on the other hand; fall back to; neck and neck; the bottom line; start (off) on the right foot. So here I have a nice list to explore with students.

Note that the sort command in AntConc can be a little confusing as the tick box is very close and to the left of the adjustable level boxes acting against the usual expectation that tick boxes are often to the right of the attribute that they refer to. The following screenshot shows in red what we expect compared to the blue that is the case:


Stay tuned for further diy corpus bulletins.