The CECL has been very active in the field of contrastive corpus research. The studies conducted by the team members cover various areas (e.g. lexis, morphology, syntax) but all have a common goal: use empirical data to revisit some of the claims found in the contrastive literature (for instance, Vinay & Darbelnet's [1958/1995] Stylistique comparée du français et de l’anglais) and often formulated on the basis of intuition alone. Our research focuses, among others, on stylistic variation (variation across registers, genres and domains) with a view to refining the description of the differences and similarities between two or more languages. Taking the context of communication into account is an innovating characteristic of our research, since contrastive linguistics has a tendency to consider languages as monolithic entities. The CECL is also interested in the combination of two types of multilingual corpora, viz. comparable and translation corpora, as well as in the linking up of contrastive and learner corpus research, as illustrated by the Integrated Contrastive Model.
In recent years, the Centre has compiled bilingual and translation corpora of journalese and fiction, using these as a basis for much of the research which has been conducted by researchers and MA students into various aspects of grammar, morphology, lexis and discourse.
In collaboration with the University of Poitiers, the CECL is compiling the PLECI corpus (Poitiers-Louvain Echange de Corpus Informatisés), a bi-directional English-French corpus of journalese and novels.
The Centre is also currently compiling a multilingual corpus of newspaper editorials (English / French / Dutch / Swedish) called MULT-ED (MULTilingual EDitorial corpus). The University of Ghent participates in the project and is responsible for the compilation of the Swedish subcorpus.
Finally, the Centre has compiled and aligned a unidirectional translation corpus of magazine articles (including transcribed interviews) in French translated into English (Label France).
In February 1999 the Centre organized a symposium entitled 'Contrastive Linguistics and Translation Studies: Empirical Approaches' which attracted a wide international audience. The Proceedings of the symposium were published in the form of two edited volumes:
- Altenberg B. and Granger S. (eds) (2002) Lexis in Contrast. Corpus-based Approaches. Studies in Corpus Linguistics 7. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins (337 pp.).
- Granger S., Lerot J. and Petch-Tyson S. (eds) (2003) Corpus-based Approaches to Contrastive Linguistics and Translation Studies. Amsterdam & Atlanta: Rodopi (219 pp.).