Thursday, 21 September 2017

What's new for 2017-18

Welcome (back) to our students for the 2017-18 academic year!

What's different this year?

We are growing! And we are thrilled to welcome new members of staff to our department:

Evan Hazenberg has joined us as Lecturer in World Englishes. Evan works on sociolinguistic variation, particularly in Canadian and New Zealand Englishes, and has a broad interest in gender and sexuality as socially and linguistically constructed dimensions of identity. He also tackles theoretical questions about socially driven variation, methodological questions about modelling, and ethnographic questions about ‘community’. With Miriam Meyerhoff he has co-edited a new book that explores trans identities and experiences from both academic and community perspectives: Representing Trans: Linguistic, Legal and Everyday Perspectives,

This year, Evan will be teaching at all undergraduate levels: the foundation year (Language in Literature), the elective module Language and Power, first-year Investigating Language in Context, second-year Social Variation in English, and third-year Language and Gender.

Kat Gupta joins us as Teaching Fellow in English Language.

Kat's research uses corpus linguistics and (critical) discourse analysis to examine socially constructed identities and the representation of marginalised groups. Their doctoral research examined the representation of the British women's suffrage movement in The Times newspaper; a book based on this research was published by Bloomsbury in 2016. Kat's current research interests are the representation of transgender people in the press (article forthcoming soon!) and, more recently, investigating issues raised by working with a corpus of online erotica.

Kat will be teaching on modules at all year levels: in year 1, Approaches to Meaning, Approaches to Grammar, and Structure of English (1st year); in year 3 Forensic Linguistics, Pragmatics and Intercultural Pragmatics and Research Proposal; and, at MA level, Researching Language in Use and Language and Culture. Second-year students will meet Kat for a session of Great Ideas about Language.

Charlotte Taylor is off on maternity leave this term. (Best wishes, Charlotte!)

We also have one new module this Autumn, Language in the United States, an Autumn second-year option designed for both English Language and American Studies students. The module is full up for this year, but if you're interested in the subject matter, please chat with Lynne Murphy.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Research News, February to August 2017, Part 1

This time round we're presenting our research round-up in two parts.  Here's what half our staff have been doing with their research time over the past few months.

Dr Aloufi with her supervisor and examiners
Lynne Cahill was on research leave in the spring term, working with a historian at the University of York on the language of medieval charters (legal documents). She is presenting this work at the Eleventh International Workshop on Written Language and Literacy in Nagoya, Japan at the end of August. Her paper "What are the Phonemes in Phoneme-Grapheme Mappings?" has been published in the Journal of Written Language and Literacy and she co-edited the Special Issue on Orthographic Databases and Lexicons. 

Many congratulations to Lynne C's student Aliaa Aloufi who completed her doctorate on The phonology of English loanwords in UHA (Urban Hijazi Arabic). Dr Aloufi graduated in July.

Lynne Murphy returned to teaching in the spring and has been presenting new research at conferences in the summer. At the Dictionary Society of North America in June she presented research based on her British Academy project, British and American Dictionary Cultures: "Language lovers or linguistic authorities? Contrasts in British and American dictionary cultures". With Sandra Jansen (University of Paderborn), she organised a panel the English Shared Futures conference in Newcastle: Tomorrow's English Today: Problems in predicting the linguistic future. Lynne's contribution addressed the question: "How American is the future?" Later in July, Lynne and Rachele De Felice (UCL) presented aspects of their work on thanking in British and American emails at the International Pragmatics Association conference in Belfast and at Corpus Linguistics 2017 in Birmingham. Lynne has also been talking about American English (and whether it threatens British English) on on the Radio 4 programmes Word of Mouth with Michael Rosen and Americanize! with Susie Dent. She's recently been quoted on politeness in British workplaces in BBC Capital, on Why British English is full of silly-sounding words in BBC Culture, on a British MP's usage of an American racial slur in the Atlantic, and on why Fears of British English's disappearing are overblown in the Economist.

Charlotte Taylor's article "The relationship between irony and sarcasm: Insights from a first-order metalanguage investigation" has been published in Journal of Politeness Research. She's also published a review article on "Pragmatics and Discourse" in The Year’s Work in English Studies (Oxford University Press) and a book review of S. Kirkwood, S. Goodman, C. McVittie & A. McKinlay (2016) The Language of Asylum: Refugees and Discourse in the journal Discourse & Communication. Charlotte has recently become a member of the editorial board for the new Journal of Corpora and Discourse Studies published by Cardiff University Press.
Charlotte has given a number of papers in the last few months. She presented "Mock politeness: Perceptions vs practice" at the University of Reading in February, and in March "Apples and oranges? Comparing across multilingual corpora" at Corpus Linguistics in the South 14: Corpus Linguistics & Multilingualism at Birkbeck and Discourse keywords of migration: The case of community at the Language & Power Research Group in Canterbury. In April, Charlotte and Jiayi Wang (UCLan) presented "The conventionalisation of mock politeness in British & Chinese online forums" at the Imean Conference at the University of West England and in May she attended Approaches to migration, language and identity at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland to present "Naming and categorising: 200 years of labelling migrants in the British press".

Stay tuned for Part 2 in early September!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

ROLLS: Professor Tim Hitchcock (Sussex University) talks about his new work on The Old Bailey Proceedings data

At this week’s  ROLLS  seminar,  we are delighted to welcome Professor Tim Hitchcock (Sussex University) to talk about his new work on The Old Bailey Proceedings data. We hope to see you there (1pm, Wed 26/04, Jubilee G36).
Hearing voices in an 18th century courtroom: Sound, space and experience at the Old Bailey
Combining 3D modelling of the Old Bailey courtroom c.1800 with textual analysis of the recorded speech of defendants tried there, this paper explores how we might reconstruct the 'voices' of the dead, and locate them in an understandable material context.  By combining statistical analysis of one of the most extensive verbatim records we possess of speech acts prior to the twentieth century - The Old Bailey Proceedings -  with historical reconstructions derived from architectural drawings, contemporary images and archival research, this papers seeks to both illustrate an innovative methodological approach, and at the same time, revise our understanding of the evolution of both the trial process, and the experience of being tried.
And a biographical blurb.
Tim Hitchcock is Professor of Digital History at the University of Sussex.  He has published a dozen books on the histories of poverty, sexuality and street life, primarily focussed on eighteenth-century London; and with Professor Robert Shoemaker and others has created a series of websites helping to give direct public access to 35 billion words of primary sources evidencing the history of Britain. Designed to underpin the writing of a new 'history from below', these sites include:  the Old Bailey Online, 1674 to 1913 (; London Lives, 1690-1800 (; Locating London's Past (; and Connected Histories (  Jointly with Robert Shoemaker, in 2011 he was given the History Today, Trustees Award for his contribution to historical research.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

ROLLS 8th March: Conceptualising language and communication in the context of dementia

For our next ROLLS talk on the 8th of March, we are very lucky to have Alison Wray visiting us to talk about how knowledge of language and communication can help with our understanding of dementia. With us living longer lives, and developing as a result more complex health needs, greater knowledge of this challenging condition is vital for helping people and their families live with the illness. This talk represents a fantastic example of how linguistic study can be applied to good use in the real world, and we are very excited to welcome Alison. The talk is on Wednesday the 8th at 1pm in Jubilee G36.

Conceptualising language and communication in the context of dementia
Alison Wray
Centre for Language and Communication Research,
Cardiff University

This talk will consider some of the many aspects of language and communication that relate to our understanding of dementia. Language plays many roles in the dementia context – as the means of communication between researchers, clinicians, carers, the media, families and people with dementia; and as an object of investigation in its own right, since dementia is diagnosed and tracked through a person’s language. Two vignettes will be used to illustrate the complexity of this big picture: (1) Linguistic patterns in early adulthood that appear to predict future Alzheimer’s; (2) Ethical dilemmas when communication problems in dementia result in disruptive behaviour.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

ROLLS: Gerlinde Mautner from WU Vienna talks to us about corpus analysis of UK court judgements

Gerlinde Mautner from WU Vienna talks to us about corpus analysis of UK court judgements

Come along to ROLLS for linguistic stimulation and biscuits. We are in Jubilee G36 at 1pm. We can't wait to see you.

UK Supreme Court Judgements: A Corpus-Based Genre Analysis

Founded in 2009, the UK Supreme Court is the UK’s final court of appeal for civil cases, and for criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The judgements handed down by its 12 justices decide points of law ‘of the greatest public importance’. From a linguistic perspective, over and above the judgements’ practical relevance, they are also an interesting vehicle for reappraising several aspects of discourse, including the following:
·        Performativity
·        Intertextuality
·        Meta-discourse
·        (Pseudo-)dialogicity
 Using a purpose-built corpus of 58 judgements, totaling over 900,000 words, the talk presents an exploratory study of the above issues. Moreover, on the level of methodology, it critically examines the potential and limitations of computer-assisted discourse studies.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Thomas Devlin gives ROLLS talk on tone in CPE

For our first ROLLS talk of 2017, we are delighted to welcome back Thomas Devlin to talk about his work on tone in Cameroon Pidgin English. The data promises to be fascinating, and we hope to see you there (1pm, Wed 08/02, Jubilee G36)!

Investigating tone in a spoken corpus of Cameroon Pidgin English
Thomas Devlin (University of Derby), Sarah FitzGerald (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London), Melanie Green (University of Sussex)

Cameroon Pidgin English (CPE) is an expanded pidgin/creole spoken by around 11 million people, often alongside the prestige languages French and English and a variety of indigenous languages (Lewis et al. 2016). In advance of the publication of the first grammar of CPE (Ayafor and Green 2017), this paper explores the use of tone in a sample of 15 CPE speakers from the larger corpus, balanced for sex, age, geographic locations, professions, educational and linguistic backgrounds.  
Although previous studies of tone in West African Pidgin Englishes (WAPE) are patchy in terms of their descriptions and have shown inconsistencies in terms of findings, it is possible to hypothesise some sort of partial tone system in CPE based on this existing literature. Using acoustic analysis to investigate tone in a selection of monosyllabic, disyllabic and multisyllabic words, spanning different parts of speech, the initial findings from this research largely corroborate the literature suggesting that CPE is a tone language with 3 levels (low, mid and high). The results show some difference in tone between lexical and grammatical words and a tendency to distinguish lexical pairs, in line with other WAPEs.

Ayafor, Miriam and Melanie Green (in press for 2017). Cameroon Pidgin English [London Oriental and African Language Library 20]. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2016. Ethnologue: languages of the world. 19th edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version:

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Research news: September 2016-January 2017

As usual, we are starting the new term with a round-up of what we have all been doing when not in the classroom with our lovely students.

Charlotte Taylor was on research leave in the autumn term starting a new project investigating the representation of migrants over time. She spent the term as a visiting researcher at Lancaster University working on a wonderful archive of nineteenth century newspapers. In September she co-organised a panel on comparative approaches to migration discourse at the conference for Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis across Disciplines (CADAAD) and co-presented a paper on Evaluation of communities in migration discourse. From her other research area of pragmatics, in October her new book was published Mock Politeness in English and Italian: A corpus-assisted metalanguage analysis. She also published a research paper on Mock politeness and culture: Perceptions and practice in the journal Intercultural Pragmatics (November) and gave an invited paper at Edge Hill University on Mock politeness: Perceptions vs practice (October).
In the spring term, Roberta Piazza will be on research leave working on a monograph investigating the discourse that reflects and constructs the relation between identity and space in mobile and marginal individuals. She presented some of her work on this topic at the Sixth Conference on Explorations in Ethnography, Language and Communication: Diversities in global societies in Stockholm (September) with a paper on Diverse mobile geographies: The impact of unsettled place on individuals’ identity. In this area, she has also been awarded a HEIF grant to for an impact event to sensitise Brighton and Hove citizens about Irish travellers’ rights. Together with Charlotte Taylor, she organised the excellent symposium on Discourse: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (November) where she presented a paper on Corbyn by the BBC. The symposium is now leading to a special issue of CADAAD Journal.

Lynne Murphy was on research leave in the autumn term continuing work on her new book on British and American English. While on leave, she made a research trip to the Oxford University Press archives as part of her 'British and American Dictionary Cultures' grant project (January). She has also talked about the relationship between British/American English in her usual blog, Separated by a Common Language, and she featured on The Verb (BBC Radio 3) in November, talking about American and British election words. The segment then featured in Radio 4's Pick of the Week. She has continued her work of bringing the wonder of linguistics to a wider audience. In a very busy October, this included an article in Quartz on Linguistics explains why Trump sounds racist when he says “the” African Americans, an interview on KCBS talk radio San Francisco about  Donald Trump’s ‘othering’ language, and discussing Trump’s use of language on Talk the Talk (RTR FM, Australia).

Postgraduate research students

Many congratulations to: Alexandra Reynolds (co-supervised by Jules Winchester & Roberta Piazza) and Rukayah AlHedayani (supervised by Lynne Murphy) who were awarded their PhDs at the winter graduation!

New faces on campus

We are pleased to welcome two visiting researchers to Sussex this term. We still have Prof. Gerlinde Mautner with us and she will be sharing her research on ‘UK Supreme Court Judgements: A corpus-based genre analysis’ on 22 February as part of ROLLS.
We also welcome Shuyun Huang from Huaiyin Normal University in Jiangsu Province, China. She will be spending the spring term with us, working with Charlotte Taylor & Roberta Piazza to develop her research project on ‘A critical discourse analysis of the reported speech in disaster news’.