Dr Nick Smith

Senior Lecturer in Education (Applied Linguistics)

BA (Durham), MA (Lancaster), PhD (Lancaster)

Tel. +44 (0)116 229 7525

Email: ns359@le.ac.uk

Personal details


I came to Leicester in September 2013, having previously worked at the Universities of Lancaster and Salford. My main academic interests are in applied linguistics, especially the use of computer corpora to explore variation and change in the English language. (For the uninitiated, a corpus, plural form corpora, is a sample of electronic texts representing one or more types of language in use). Most of my investigations have been on changes in grammatical structure and style in 20th- and 21st-century standard British and American English: see for example, Change in Contemporary English (CUP, 2009), co-authored with Geoffrey Leech, Marianne Hundt and Christian Mair.

Other research and teaching areas include dialects/varieties of English in England and around the world, and longer-range historical change in English (e.g. historical pragmatics, grammar/semantics, and spelling variation).

I also have a keen interest in areas of corpus methodology such as corpus design, and ways of improving automatic and manual forms of linguistic annotation, such that users can take better advantage of the potential of corpora for research and teaching. Examples of this can be found in Smith et al (2008) and the co-authored Corpus Linguistics with BNCweb (Peter Lang, 2008, shortlisted for the BAAL book prize 2009).


MA Applied Linguistics and TESOL:

  • ED7004 Language, Discourse and Society
  • ED7023 Corpus Approaches to Lexis
  • Research Methods (for Dissertation/Professional Enquiry)

Distance Learning PhD:

  • Qualitative Research and Analysis


Selected publications



View a full list of publications.


Since around 2000 I have been involved in a series of funded projects (AHRC, British Academy, Leverhulme) designed to improve understanding of recent grammatical and stylistic change in standard British and American English. In collaboration with colleagues at Lancaster, Freiburg and Zürich, I have been investigating changing patterns of grammatical usage, comparing developments in British and American English, and discussing possible factors underlying the changes identified. The work has entailed annotation and detailed analysis of corpora, and creation of new corpora from the early  twentieth century. From these activities, and previous work on the British National Corpus, I have developed a strong interest in corpus methods, particularly ways of enhancing the design and annotation of corpora to support investigations of language in use.

I am a member of the international consortium developing the ARCHER corpus project. This corpus is a major resource for studying regional differences and historical change in British and American English from 1600 to the present day. My main involvement is in enhancing the grammatical annotation of the corpus. I have made similar contributions to the NECTE and FRED-S corpora of English dialects.

I am on the committee of the Corpus SIG of the British Association for Applied Linguistics, which aims to promote corpus-related research and teaching within the UK. My contributions to research training includes inter-university schemes such as the AHRC Corpus Linguistics Advanced Research Education and Training (CLARET) and the Manchester-Salford Postgraduate Research Training in Linguistics, as well as short corpus linguistics courses in Japan and Sweden.

My refereeing/reviewing work includes major journals (e.g. CorporaEnglish Language and LinguisticsInternational Journal of Corpus LinguisticsJournal of Pragmatics, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen) and conferences (e.g. ICAME, Corpus Linguistics conference series).


I am interested in supervising students whose interests include any of the following areas related to my research and teaching:

  • Corpus linguistics;
  • English grammar and lexicogrammar;
  • Language change in English;
  • Using corpora for learning/teaching;
  • Spoken, written and new media language;
  • Regional and social variation in English, including British and American English, World Englishes, and regional English dialect

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