CASS awarded Queen’s Anniversary Prize

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Lancaster University’s world-renowned language pioneers, within the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS), were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Thursday Week 7.

The esteemed research centre received the prize for its “leading work in the analysis of main world languages through corpus linguistics, applied to current usage in print, speech, and online social media.” Ten members, spanning four generations of researchers, attended the ceremony and received the prize on behalf of the centre.

The award itself was presented by their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. Receiving the award were the Vice Chancellor, Professor Mark E. Smith, and the Director of CASS and Distinguished Professor of English Language and Linguistics, Tony McEnery.

Professor McEnery said after the ceremony: “The Prince of Wales asked the Vice-Chancellor about our work and was fascinated to discover what we have undertaken in the past 40 years. Princess Anne, also at the ceremony, talked to me and was particularly interested in the impact of our work on dictionary making.

He also told SCAN how the Duchess of Cornwall “asked (him) about the practical applications of our work in social media and made a point of talking to all of the students and staff with us to find out about their work. In addition our group was visited by the Minister for Universities and Science Jo Johnson and Sir John Chilcott, both of whom were very interested in Lancaster’s pioneering work in this area.”

Whilst Lancaster has been hugely influential in the field of corpus linguistics for a number of years, CASS applies the research method to the social sciences. Researchers within the centre are currently working on applying their work to a range of ‘real-world’ applications, such as vastly improved dictionaries, online aggression, hate speech, and the way in which end of life care is discussed.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mark E. Smith, said:  “I am delighted that Lancaster’s world-leading contribution to the computer-aided analysis of language over the last 45 years has been recognised. Lancaster is very proud of this work which has had very real impact on the study of language worldwide, has a real role to play in public policy making and which plays an important role in supporting the UK’s valuable language industry.”

Attending the awards ceremony alongside the Vice-Chancellor and Professor McEnery were Chancellor, the Rt Hon Alan Milburn; Chief Administrative Officer, Nicola Owen; Dr Claire Hardaker; Dr Václav Brezina; PhD students, Rosin Knight and Gill Smith; and MA student Mathew Gillings.

Professor Tony McEnery said: “The award is recognition for everyone past and present who has worked for the Centre. The Centre has built on the work of four generations of researchers at Lancaster. I am proud to lead it and look forward with keen anticipation to what future generations of researchers in this area achieve.”

Every two years the Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are awarded to universities and colleges who submit work which show excellence and innovation, but also have some form of benefit for the institution itself, and for the wider society in general. This is the fourth Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Lancaster. Previous awards which were won in 1994, 2005 and 2009, have been awarded for the work the University has done with students with physical and learning difficulties; work on the development of broadband; and work in plant science in regards to global food security, respectively.

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