John Sinclair (1933-2007)


  • Language and Context

Research Interests


John McHardy Sinclair was a British linguist who took a leading role in developing corpus linguistics and English-language corpora.

He was elected to the foundation chair of Modern English Language at the University of Birmingham. In 1995 he took partial early retirement, moved to Italy and founded the Tuscan Word Centre, an institution devoted to corpus based language research and teaching. He finally retired in 2000 from the University of Birmingham.

He was an Honorary Life Member of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain and a member of the Academia Europaea. John held an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Gothenburg, and Honorary Professorships in the Universities of Jiao Tong, Shanghai and Glasgow.

Contribution to Linguistics

Sinclair pioneered work in corpus linguistics, discourse analysis, lexicography, and language teaching. He was an early leader in the fields of collocation studies, spoken language research and computational linguistics.

Central Knowledge

He was the founder of the ground-breaking COBUILD project in lexical computing which revolutionized lexicography in the 1980s and resulted in a new generation of corpus-driven dictionaries and reference materials for English language learners.

This project's aim is to build corpus-driven lexica for foreign lerners of English. He becaume chief adviser of Collins' Cobuild English Language Dictionary which was published in 1987.

Main Publications

  • Sinclair, John & Coulthard, M. Towards an Analysis of Discourse: The English Used by Teachers and Pupils. Oxford: Oxford University Press.1975.

  • Corpus, concordance, collocation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1991.

Categories: People