The Prime Machine is a user-friendly corpus tool for English language teaching, linguistic analysis and self-tutoring based on the Lexical Priming theory of language; the software was developed by Stephen Jeaco.
About the software
The Prime Machine is an English language learning, teaching and research tool, designed to provide users with a multitude of examples from corpus texts and additional information about the contextual environment in which words and combinations of words occur. It is a client-server app, allowing you to search from a range of pre-prepared English language corpora. Users can type in words or phrases and view concordance lines and other corpus data. It has research tools for more advanced concordancing, and there are also DIY corpus tools allowing small collections of your own English texts to be analysed and compared with the ready-made online corpora. The software runs on MacOS, Windows 64 bit and Windows 32 bit systems. Tablet and smart phone versions for iOS and Android are currently in advanced stages of development. Click here for The Prime Machine Version History.
My doctoral thesis explains some of the pedagogical rational for the development of The Prime Machine, as well as some technical details and an evaluation.
Jeaco, S. (2015). The Prime Machine: a user-friendly corpus tool for English language teaching and self-tutoring based on the Lexical Priming theory of language. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Liverpool.
The Prime Machine was initially developed with language learners and teachers in mind. You can use it to find examples of real language use (also called naturally occurring language). It has also been further developed to offer a good range of tools for English majors and students studying linguistics or TESOL to use for corpus research projects. The patterns and summary information of features of Lexical Priming can be used to compare specific instances of English language use (perhaps an expression in an English learner text or a test item, or creative uses of language in speeches, articles or literary extracts) against patterns representing a norm in one of the ready-made online corpora. For example, a combination of words found in a single text outside the corpus can be compared with patterns of collocation and co-text of these words in a corpus of similar text types. The “art” of a sentence from a novel not in the corpus can be explored to see how some patterns in the sentence follow conventions found in similar text types, while other features of the patterns deviate from norms. Projects may also involve the construction of new corpora. Typical DIY corpus projects may focus on the exploration of differences between genres/registers, the exploration of different authors’ styles as well as differences in English translations (corpus stylistics) or the exploration of vocabulary and language patterns for English language teaching materials for a specific subject discipline.
The texts you can view using The Prime Machine contain ideas and expressions which may be offensive. These texts do not represent the views of the software developer; they are authentic texts samples of language used by others. Most corpora available through this software are suitable for adult language students and researchers.
If you are using The Prime Machine to learn how to use English, pay special attention to the situation and context and choose expressions carefully.