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.


The following is a list of recent and current projects being 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.


We offer postgraduate Master's courses in English Language and Linguistics and in Translation Studies.

  • The MLitt in English Language and Linguistics is centered around advanced study of the English language, and covers both theoretical approaches to linguistics and the application of these techniques in a broader cultural context. Students gain a thorough grounding in the way language works, with a particular focus on the structures and varieties of English, both contemporary and historical, and develop advanced skills to help them conduct their own research.
  • The MRes in Translation Studies has a strong focus on practical translation and on specific situations in which people communicate with one another across different cultures. We offer the following languages: French, Spanish and Chinese, and (subject to demand and availability) Russian, and Polish.


Staff in Language and Linguistics cover a wide range of research interests, and we welcome potential PhD students working in many diverse areas of language and linguistics, such as:

  • discourse analysis; language and gender; textual culture (particularly reception studies); masculinity and popular culture; sociolinguistics; health communication and educational linguistics;
  • ethnohistory, cultural anthropology and ethnolinguistics;
  • applied linguistics; interpretation and translation studies; lexicography; second language acquisition;
  • medieval English and European literature; scholastic literary theory; Latin writings of John Wyclf and his contemporaries; Wycliffite theology; Latin and European venaculars in the later Middle Ages;
  • language evolution; grammaticalisation; cognitive linguistics; historical linguistics; linguistic complexity; regularisation and systematicity in language; language acquisition; cross-situational word learning. 
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