English Language and Linguistics

English Language and Linguistics is a developing research grouping in the School of English.

Four members of staff work in English Language and Linguistics, along with a growing group of doctoral students.

We run an interdepartmental linguistics seminar series to bring together linguists across the university to hear about the latest research from internal and external speakers.

Current research

Early Germanic languages

Dr Shaw’s research interests focus on early Germanic languages in their social and religious contexts. He has published on Old English phonology and orthography, with a particular interest in the use of coin epigraphy as evidence, on processes of loan-translation from Latin into the early Germanic languages, and on Viking Age developments in Scandinavian personal naming practices. He is currently working on Germanic personal names and on computer-assisted analysis of textual affiliation in Middle English. With Joan C. Beal he has revised Charles Barber’s The English Language: A Historical Introduction, and in 2011 he published a book on Germanic goddesses.

Dr Shaw is a member of the Impact of Diasporas on the Making of Britain research project.

Language variation and change in English varieties around the world

Dr Waters examines variation and change in English around the world, with a focus on lexicon, morpho-syntax and discourse-pragmatics. Her work draws on the methodologies of variationist sociolinguistics, generative syntax and historical linguistics.

She has recently published on best practices for the quantitative study of discourse-pragmatic variation and on transatlantic adverb variation. She participates in DiPVaC, the discourse-pragmatic variation and change research network.

Postgraduate Projects

Rashwan Salih

Categories of Cohesion in English and Kurdish texts, A Comparative Study

Rashwan Salih discusses his proposed PhD abstract (5.09 mins, 4.47 MB)

Janette Gilbert

Differentiating the Dialects of Early Medieval Northumbria

No real attempt has yet been made to catalogue or rationalise the differences in language across the Northern counties of England in the late medieval period. In their 1972 study, A Descriptive Guide to the Manuscripts of the Prick of Conscience, Angus McIntosh and Robert Lewis identified thirteen copies of this work as 'fully northern'. They did not, however, make any attempt to differentiate between the dialects of these texts, stating that they had not the means to go about this within the scope of their study, although 'this is not to say that it will remain impossible to do so.’

My doctoral research, then, is intended to become a detailed study of northern dialects in the late Middle English period, with the ultimate intention of enabling future scholars to differentiate language forms from one another within this larger dialect area. There is no lack of appropriate material from this region, taking into account both parish records and other legal documents, and surviving literary works. The ability to distinguish more closely between forms of northern English will be useful to scholars in its own right, but would also shed some light upon the possible origins of mischsprachen texts, or those apparently written in a mixture of two dialects.

My research will be based fundamentally upon The Pricke of Conscience.

Sanne van der Schee

The plausibility of Old English short diphthongs

The existence of Old English short diphthongs has been much debated and there have been many different interpretations of the linguistic evidence available. My research will investigate the plausibility of the traditional view that short diphthongs existed in Old English.

My focus is on early Old English and this means that the body of texts that is available is limited as the majority of surviving lengthy Old English texts are from later periods. This makes it difficult to form a complete image of the language at the time and it complicates interpretation of the relevant data. Because of the limited amount of evidence for early Old English I also consider related Germanic languages for further linguistic evidence.

My research also draws on archaeological and historical evidence for a better interpretation of the linguistic data and it relies on a thorough understanding of the contexts of the texts that I analyse.

The linguistic data for my study includes some of the earliest sources of Old English and a number of related Germanic languages. This data does not only include both prose and poetry found in manuscripts but also personal names, place names and inscriptions on objects such as coins.

Email: Sanne van der Schee

Current PhD Students

Under the supervision of the English Language and Linguistics Research Group

  • Maryam Al-Attar
  • Hiba Alshalmani
  • Thulfiqar Al Tahmazi
  • Fatima Berot
  • Hallat Ebrahim
  • Nisrin Hariri

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