Professor Bernadette O'Rourke
- Professor of Sociolinguistics and Hispanic Studies (Hispanic Studies)
My research sits within the broad area of sociolinguistics and the sociology of language and focuses on the political and social meanings of language and their influence on society. I have specialisms in:
- Minority languages
- Language policy
- Language ideologies
I am particularly interested in the dynamics of multilingual societies, language revitalization in minoritized languages, ethnography of resistance, language ideologies and language activism. I have examined these dynamics across a range of fieldwork sites and language contexts including Galician (northern Spain), Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Faroese. Since 2011, I have been examining the experiences of “new speakers” of minority languages (so-called “non-native” speakers who acquire a language outside of the home). In more recent years, I have extended this focus beyond minority language contexts, exploring theories around the sociolinguistics of the “speaker” across a range of multilingual strands in the context of migration and transnational mobilities.
Collaborative projects and grants
I am currently undertaking research on language revitalisation as part of a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2021-2022).
Between 2013 and 2017 I was Chair of an EU COST Action (IS1306) New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe: Opportunities and Challenges. The New Speaker Network http://www.nspk.org.uk has over 300 members across 28 countries. The final report of the project is available here http://www.nspk.org.uk/images/iaith_digital.pdf
This project built on the research I did during my AHRC Early-Career Fellowship (2012) on “New Speakers of minority languages and their role in the process of language revitalization” and collaborations with Wilson McLeod (University of Edinburgh) as part of a Royal Society Edinburgh Workshop Grant in the Arts and Humanities (2012) entitled “New Speakers of Minority Languages: a dialogue”.
I am working on a number of other collaborative projects with Joan Pujolar and others at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya which examine the “sociolinguistics of the speaker”. These include a project on new speakers of Faroese and labour market integration (funded by the Faroese Research Council), new speakers of Gaelic (funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh) and new speakers of Irish (with John Walsh, National University of Ireland, Galway).
I am a Fellow of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and PI on the project “Sowing the seeds at Semente: Grassroots revitalization and language activism in contemporary Galicia”, one of six case studies funded as part of the Sustaining Minoritized Languages in Europe (SMiLE) project https://folklife.si.edu/smile/galician
Since my move to Glasgow in April 2019, I have established (in collaboration with Tom Bartlett and Guillem Colom-Montero) the new Arts Lab research cluster “Discourses of sustainability: Interconnections between language, society and the environment”.
I would be happy to discuss potential PhD or masters projects in any of my research areas: multilingualism, minority languages, language policy and the social life of language more broadly.
I am currently supervising 10 PhD projects. These include Alexandro Dayán-Fernández (working on the Galician diaspora in London), Eneida García Villanueva (working on family language policies and language brokering amongst Spanish-speaking transnational families in Scotland), Erin McNulty ESRC- funded (working the new speakers of Manx) and Hamid Boudiaf (working on the transmission and preservation of Kabyle). I am also first supervisor for Louis Coyeman (with English and Lingusitics) on an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with Education Scotland looking at the revitalisation of Scots. Sophia Roberson's project examines political discourse during the COVID19 pandemic.
I am second supervisor on Eleanor Chapman's ESRC project (jointly with Human Geography, examining multilingualism, migration and memory), Andree Tint (working on bilingual Latin American writers in the United States) and Lorraine McDonald (joint project with Heriot-Watt University, working on a corpus of new speakers of English). I am also working on a project with Noah Rose on a joint project with the Glasgow College of Art which examines the materialisation of minority languages as contemporary sculptural practice.
- Boudiaf, Hamid
Linguistic and Cultural identities Maintenance in Kabylia
- Chapman, Eleanor
Mother-tongues and Motherlands: multilingualism, migration and memory
- Coeyman, Louis
Scots language revitalisation in the 21st century
- Dayan-Fernandez, Alejandro
A Critical Ethnographic Sociolinguistics of Galicianness in London: Glottopolitics, Group-Making, and Ethnolinguistic Mobilisation in the Diaspora
- Garcia Villanueva, Eneida
‘It could not be any other way’ or: how Child Language Brokering toddled into to our Family Language Policy (to stay!)
- McNulty, Erin
Life after 'Death': the Impact of Sociolinguistic Factors
- Tint, Andreea-Iuliana
'Bilingual Realities - An Account of Bilingual Latin American Writers in the United States'
I supervised 8 PhDs to completion at the Heriot-Watt University, where I worked from 2007 to 2019. I was lead supervisor for Nicola Bermingham, for a PhD on Cape Verdean new speakers of Galician; Sara Brennan, working on the political economy of Irish; Anik Nandi with a project on family language policy in Galicia and Elisabeth Holm, examining the dynamics of labour market integration amongst new speakers of Faroese.
The Sociolinguistics of the Spanish-speaking world
Multilingualism in Context
Language Policy and Planning in European Minority Languages
Culture 1 (undergraduate)
Spanish in the City: Spanglish
Culture 2 (undergraduate)
Multilingualism in Spain
The politics of language in Spain
External scholarly activities
International Expert Reviewer, Norwegian Research Council (2019-present)
Carnegie Trust Research Incentive Grant Panellist (2019-present)
International Expert Reviewer, Finnish Academy (2017-2020)
AHRC Peer Review College (2016-2020)
Executive Committee, Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities (2016-2019)
International advisor, American Smithsonian Centre (2016-present)
EU COST Actions’ Review Panel for the Humanities (2015-present)
Inaugural member, Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland (2012-2020)
International advisor, Irish Research Council (2011-present)
Executive Committee, British Association for Applied Linguistics (2011-2020)
Executive Committee, Association for Study of Spanish in Society (2010-2017)
Expert advisor, EU Committee for the Regions White Paper – Multilingualism (2006)
Journal editorships and advisory boards
Editorial Board, Linguistic Minorities in Europe (de Gruyter Mouton) (2019-present)
Editor, Small Languages and Small Language Communities (SLSLC), subseries of
International Journal for the Sociology of Language (2014-2018)
Member of Advisory Board, New Voices in Translation Studies (2009-2018)
2015-19 Professor of Sociolinguistics, Heriot-Watt University
2013-15 Reader in Spanish and (Socio)linguistics, Heriot-Watt University
2007-13 Lecturer in Spanish, Heriot-Watt University
2007 Visiting Research Fellow, National University of Ireland, Galway
2005-2006 Lecturer in Spanish, Dublin City University
2000-2005 Tutor in Spanish, Dublin City University
1998-2000 Lectora, Filoloxía Inglesa, Universidade da Corunha