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Language and Linguistics

Language is one of the most fundamental qualities which makes us human. Staff in Language and Linguistics investigate how language works, how people learn and use it, what people use it for, where it came from and how it changes.  Our work is underpinned by a focus on language as a set of negotiated cultural conventions, and therefore inherently inferential and approximate.

Our expertise

The Language and Linguistics grouping includes expertise from Linguistics as well as Translation Studies and the Division runs an MLitt in English Language and Linguistics, an MSc in Translation Studies and an MSc in Translation Studies with TESOL.

Areas of scholarly expertise within the Language and Linguistics grouping are wide ranging and include Language Evolution, Historical Linguistics, Conversation Analysis, Second Language Acquisition, Ethnolinguistic, and Interpretation and Translation Studies

Bethan Benwell is a discourse and conversation analysis with a particular interest in how identities are discursively constructed. She is currently researching healthcare communication. Andrew Smith is an expert in evolutionary linguistics and is interested in the cognitive and cultural foundations of language, particularly in order to investigate how language originated and became complex. Stephen Penn is a medieval scholar with a particular interest in historical linguistics and the history of linguistic theory. Saihong Li’s research falls broadly within the fields of Applied Linguistics, Interpreting and Translation Studies, and lexicography. She has current projects on bilingualism policies in China, eye-tracking technologies in second language acquisition, translation in business negotiations and commercial exchange. Anne Stokes is a Germanist with a particular interest in literary translation, and a background in TESOL; Raquel de Pedro Ricoy is an expert in translation theory (mainly cultural issues in translation and translation and the media) and cross-cultural communication. Her current research project examines translation policy in the context of indigenous minority languages in Peru. Xiaojun Zhang is a translation studies researcher with particular expertise in machine translation. Zhe Gao’s academic research straddles translation studies and Religion and mainly focuses on the translatability of Christianity into Chinese culture. He is concerned with linguistic translations of English Christian literature into Chinese, re-interpretations of Christian messages in the context of Chinese society and culture, and the practice of inter-religious dialogue between Christianity and Chinese religions.

  • Projects

    The following is a list of past and current projects undertaken by Language and Linguistics staff:

    • Devolving Diasporas: Migration and Reception in Central Scotland(AHRC): conversational discourse analysis of reading group discussions of diasporic literature in Scotland and transnationally.
    • Healthcare Interactions: pilot study investigating healthcare interactions in the NHS from a conversational analytical perspective.
    • Documentation of Bolivian Chipaya (Volkswagen Stiftung): documentation and description of the endangered language Chipaya (part of the DOBES project).
    • Interlacing Two Worlds: The Creation of a Colonial Quechua Verbal Art (AHRC): exploration of the language of Christianisation in colonial Peru.
    • Learning Chinese as a Second Language: interdisciplinary project using eye tracking to investigate the impact of different writing systems on second language acquisition.
    • Food Labels and Inter-cultural Confusion: a study exploring translation issues caused by differences in expectations of accuracy and detail in food labelling.
    • Global English Communication Gap: an investigation of the efficacy of English by non-native speakers in business negotiations.
    • Bilingual Policy in Xinjiang: a sociolinguistic comparative evaluation of the bilingual policy of the Chinese government in Xinjiang.
    • Cross-situational Learning in Children (British Academy): an experimental study exploring the development of cross-situational word learning strategies in young children.
  • Staff
    • Bethan Benwell: discourse analysis; language and gender; textual culture (particularly reception studies); masculinity and popular culture; sociolinguistics; health communication and educational linguistics
    • Saihong Li: applied linguistics; interpretation and translation studies; lexicography; second language acquisition;
    • Stephen Penn: early history of the linguistic sciences, scholastic hermeneutics, Old and Middle English language and literature and historical linguistics.
    • Andrew Smith: language evolution; grammaticalisation; cognitive linguistics; historical linguistics; linguistic complexity; regularisation and systematicity in language; language acquisition; cross-situational word learning. 
    • Anne Stokes: translation studies, literary translation, German literary culture since 1945
    • Xiaojun Zhang: translation studies, machine translation.
    • Zhe Gao: The translation of Christianity into Chinese culture (including the linguistic translations of English Christian literature into Chinese, re-interpretations of Christian messages in the context of Chinese society and culture, and the practice of inter-religious dialogue between Christianity and Chinese religions).
    • Raquel de Pedro Ricoytranslation theory (mainly cultural issues in translation and translation and the media) and cross-cultural communication.
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