[Ads-l] Difficulty with new BYU corpora search syntax

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Mon Jan 21 04:20:49 UTC 2019

I've discovered to my dismay that the BYU Corpora's latest 
simplifications to their search syntax have decreased their 
functionality...at least as far as I can tell. I'm hoping someone here 
will know the proper workaround.

I'm looking into the frequency of the verb 'witness' taking a 
participial complement ('witnessed them doing') versus a base-form 
complement ('witnessed them do'). To ask for the verb 'witness' plus a 
pronoun is now done like this:


To ask for a following verb, you do this:


To ask for a specific form of a verb, such as a gerund/participle, you 
used to be able to do it like this:

    WITNESS_v PRON _v?g*

or like this if you wanted the base form:

    WITNESS_v PRON _vv0*

However, when you use these POS tags preceded by an underscore, instead 
of the all-caps POS tags--even if you put a space before the 
underscore--the search engine interprets it to mean a restriction on the 
previous element. So in this case, it would be looking for pronouns that 
are also gerund/participles or base-form verbs, and find nothing. So 
what I need is one of those all-caps versions of the parts of speech, 
like maybe VERBING or something, but as far as I've been able to tell so 
far, they don't exist.

Thanks for any suggestions!


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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