Modern English Language & Linguistics

Modern English Language & Linguistics

Glasgow colleagues are active in individual research in every area of Modern English Language studies, from phonetics and phonology through grammar and discourse studies to lexicology and semantics, and we also have access to numerous large electronic datasets available for exploitation in research.  The School is a leading centre for Corpus Linguistics, There are cross-School synergies with colleagues working on Scots and Scottish English, and on historical English Language, most notably on language variation and change.

The School has special strengths in sociolinguistics, with several major ESRC-funded projects such as Stability versus Change in a Shetland Dialect and the recently-awarded One Speaker, Two Dialects projects, and researchers work closely with colleagues in the School of Psychology, e.g. through the AHRC-funded STACS project.  There is a cross-theme interest in both Modern and Historical English Language clusters in linguistic variation and change.

Experimental phonetics is a major strength.  The School operates a well-equipped and recently-upgraded experimental phonetics laboratory, Glasgow University Laboratory Phonetics (GULP), with an associated Speech Studio.  In 2011 GULP hosted an international colloquium, followed by a Scotland-wide Knowledge Exchange Day for students of speech therapy and phonetics, building on our partnership with Micro-phonics Ltd.; and in 2013 the Carnegie Trust selected the Seeing Speech project to represent its funding programme at an exhibition in the Scottish Parliament (subsequent funding will develop Seeing Speech as the Dynamic Dialects project). These projects featured at an all-day Glasgow Digital Humanities network workshop (2013), building on links established at the recent College Industry Day.

Associated staff:

Marc Alexander

Professor Marc Alexander

Professor of English Linguistics (English Language & Linguistics)

Research interests: Semantics, Lexicology, Digital Humanities, Corpus Linguistics, Historical Thesaurus Of English, Stylistics, Cognitive Linguistics, Lexicography, Dictionaries, Thesauri, Metaphor, Pragmatics, Computational Linguistics, Historical Linguistics, Legal Interpretation

Wendy Anderson

Professor Wendy Anderson

Professor of Linguistics (English Language & Linguistics)

Research interests: Semantics, Metaphor, Conceptual Metaphor Theory, Corpus Linguistics, French Linguistics, Lexicography, Historical Thesaurus Of English, Discourse Analysis, Genre Analysis, Grammar Of English, Digital Humanities, Language And Culture

Catherine Emmott

Dr Catherine Emmott

Reader in English Language and Linguistics (English Language & Linguistics)

Research interests: Discourse Analysis, Text Analysis, Stylistics, Cognitive Stylistics, Literary Linguistics, Pragmatics

Jennifer Smith

Professor Jennifer Smith

Professor of Sociolinguistics (English Language & Linguistics)

Research interests: Linguistics; sociolinguistics; dialect; syntax

Rachel Smith

Dr Rachel Smith

Senior Lecturer in Phonetics and Speech Perception (English Language & Linguistics)

Research interests: phonetics, speech perception, experimental phonetics, accents, voices, synaesthesia, rhythm, sociophonetics

Jane Stuart-Smith

Professor Jane Stuart-Smith

Professor of Phonetics and Sociolinguistics (English Language & Linguistics)

Research interests: Phonetics, Sociophonetics, Sociolinguistics, Bilingualism, Multilingualism, Minority Ethnic Languages

REF Reading Groups and Activities

Digital Editing Reading Group

RG Members: Joanna Kopaczyk, Katie Lowe, Diane Scott, Jeremy Smith, Alison Wiggins

  • Group members has shared, read and gave feedback on pre-publication materials and work-in-progress by JK, JS and AW
  • AW read a provided feedback on a Leverhulme Trust Fellowship proposal for Katherine Heavey (Early Modern Literature RG) and liaised with their group to contine to develop the web profile and video content for Medieval/Renaissance studies


Middle English Reading Group

RG Members: Pam King, Andrew Prescott, Beth Robertson

  • Group members have shared pre-publication materials.


Discourse Reading Group

RG Members: Marc Alexander, Tom Bartlett, Fraser Dallachy, Cathy Emmott

  • Read and commented on Dallachy’s successful Carnegie funding bid
  • Read and commented on Dallachy and Alexander’s handbook article
  • Emmott was on study leave
  • Bartlett began 2019


Lexis and Onomastics Reading Group

RG Members: Wendy Anderson, Rebecca Gregory, Carole Hough, Simon Taylor, Eila Williamson


GULP Reading Group

RG Members: Clara Cohen, Rachel Smith, Jane Stuart-Smith 

This year the GULP reading group has done the following:

  • JS-S, RS, and JS (from Dialect Syntax RG) all read and gave feedback on CC’s ESRC new investigator grant draft (which has now been submitted)
  • RS and CC read and gave feedback on JS0S ERC advanced grant
  • All group  members gave read and gave feedback on student abstracts and then later on their short paper submissions to the International Congress on the Phonetic Sciences


Dialect Syntax Reading Group

RG Members: Miriam Krause, Sadie Ryan, Jennifer Smith, Gary Thoms, Caroline Heycock (Edin), David Adger (QMUL)

ELL selection of recent research highlights

Prof. Marc Alexander:


  • January 2019: Pervasive Humanities: Data mining of cultural heritage collections (with Lorna Hughes), invited plenary, Digital Humanities Stockholm, National Library of Sweden
  • September 2018: Text and Taxonomy in the 21st Century/Text und Taxonomie im 21. Jahrhundert, opening keynote, the German Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities Grand Tour, Darmstadt, Germany
  • July 2018: The Presence of the Supernatural in Parliament, invited plenary, Conference of the Commonwealth Hansard Editors Association, House of Lords, London
  • August 2018: Lexicalization Pressure: From Frequency to Linguistic Trauma, invited plenary, ICEHLXX: the 20th International Conference on English Historical Linguistics, University of Edinburgh


  • 2018-2019: 21st Century Reading: Text and Data Mining Skills for Scotland, Royal Society of Edinburgh network
  • 2018-2019: Hansard at Huddersfield: Making the Parliamentary Record More Accessible, AHRC grant AH/R007136/1


Dr Tom Barlett:

Plenary at the Diversity and Inclusion: Overcoming Fragmentation conference in Bologna (21-23 Feb). Talk on Tackling “post-truth” culture through inclusion and diversity: building on Gramsci and Halliday to the Fondazione Gramsci in Bologna on the 26th Feb. Visiting Scholar in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures in Bologna for that period.


Dr Cathy Emmott:



  • February 2018 to February 2019: Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), European Visiting Research Grant, for travel to Continental Europe from July 2018 to January 2019 (“The language of trauma narratives: representing body, self and social space in literary fiction and autobiographical life stories”.)

Visiting Scholarship:

  • July 2018 to January 2019: Visiting Scholar, University College Roosevelt (part of Utrecht University), Middelburg, The Netherlands. 

Other international lectures and doctoral workshop:

  • November 2018: Lecture to Arts and Humanities and Social Science staff at University College Roosevelt, Middelburg, The Netherlands.
  • November 2018: Lecture to undergraduate/postgraduate students and staff, Department of English and Linguistics, University of Mainz, Germany.
  • December 2018: Lecture to postgraduate students and staff, Department of Literary Studies and Centre for the Study of Experimental Literature, University of Ghent, Belgium.
  • December 2018: Chaired “master class” workshop for Ph.D. students, Department of Literary Studies and Centre for the Study of Experimental Literature, University of Ghent, Belgium.
  • December 2018: Lecture to postgraduate students and staff, Department of English, University of Heidelberg, Germany.


Dr Katie Lowe:

  • Plenary, 40th Spanish Society for Medieval Engish Language and Literature Conference, Oviedo, Spain
  • Invited participant (funded), Stanford Text Technologies Fourth Annual Collegium


Prof. Beth Robertson:


  • “’Mede Overmaistrieth Lawe:’  Gendered Personification and the Imaginative Power of the Feminine in Piers Plowman” in  Approaches to Teaching William Langland’s Piers Plowman.  Approaches to Teaching World Literature  (New York: Modern Language Association Publications, 2018)
  • “Skin Matters,” in Nyffenegger, Nicole and Katrin Rupp, Writing on Skin in the Age of Chaucer (Berlin and Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2018)
  • “Julian of Norwich and the Digital” (Archive  Journal) special issue, Digital Medieval Manuscript Cultures (7000 words)
  • “First Encounter: ‘Snail-Horn Perception’ in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde” in Contemporary Chaucer Across the Centuries, Helen Hickey et al. eds.(Brepols, 2018)
  • “Lyric Interventions in Troilus and Criseyde” for Form and Focus in Middle English Lyrics: New Approaches to Short Poems, ed. Christiania Whitehead and Julia Boffey (Cambridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2018).


Dr Alison Wiggins

  • Organiser/PI: Working With Archives event, 8-10 November 2018, AHRC funded, held at Glasgow University Library and Kelvin Hall. 8-9 November: training event for c.50 postgraduate students, from Scotland, RUK and international students (from Spain, Norway, Japan, Czech Republic), for six 1.5-hour workshops. 9-10 November: plenary lecture by Bridget Whearty (USA) and day symposium with 13 speakers, held in Kelvin Hall, 120 reserved tickets on eventbrite and close to 100. The event included contributions from Digital Editing Reading Group Members (JS delivered two workshops; JK gave a talk; DS gave a respons and co-hosted throughout the event.
  • Co-director (with Bryony Randall, English Literature, and Joanna Tucker, History) responsible for developing the Textual Editing Lab (University of Glasgow, part of ArtsLab), launching 31 January 2019
  • Publication now out: ‘Money, Marriage and Rememberance: Telling Stories from the Cavendish Financial Accounts’, in Bess of Hardwick: New Perepctives (Manchester UP, 2019), pp. 36-77
  • Active grant: AHRC Leadership Fellowship, PI, 2017 – Sep. 2019