The orientation of much linguistic research is undergoing change ... I think this is a good development for humanistic subjects: it calls for more academic cross-fertilization and fresh approaches to old problems which, hopefully, will lead to a better understanding of the complexities of natural language and the marvel of human language processing. There is, in this field, a real need for people who have experience from working with 'real' language data ... (Svartvik 1990: 85-6) Corpus linguistics can be described as the study of language on the basis of text corpora. Although the use of authentic examples from selected texts has a long tradition in English studies, there has been a rapid expansion of corpus linguistics in the last three decades. This development stems from two important events which took place around 1960. One was Randolph Quirk's launching of the Survey of English Usage (SEU) with the aim of collecting a large and stylistically varied corpus as the basis for a systematic description of spoken and written English. The other was the advent of computers which made it possible to store, scan and classify large masses of material. The first machine-readable corpus was compiled by Nelson Francis and Henry Kucera at Brown University in the early 1960s. It was soon followed by others, notably the Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen (LOB) Corpus, which utilized the same format as the Brown Corpus and made it possible to compare different varieties of English.