Research at the Bristol Centre for Linguistics (BCL)
The main strands of current research within BCL.
Bristolian and the language(s) of Bristol
Our work on the linguistic diversity of Bristol celebrates the kaleidoscope of languages, language varieties, language styles and language identities which make the City of Bristol and its surroundings distinctive. The project takes an inclusive and multidisciplinary approach to the importance that language has for people living in Bristol, and encourages research with Bristolians, rather than simply about them. We also work with students as researchers on this project in the Studying Speech Communities module of our BA(Hons) English Language and Linguistics course.
This area of research explores how language is organised in the mind and considers what language can tell us about cognition more broadly (and vice versa). Researchers in the Centre consider the role that metaphor plays in our understanding of the world around us, how bi-/multi-lingualism influences people’s processing of language, and how our linguistic background of speakers influences how they perceive the world (the so-called Whorfian hypothesis).
We consider that language reflects and reinforces differences in power, status, social class, and we seek to analyse how these societal inequities emerge and can be challenged. Colleagues in the Centre explore this in research on political discourse, analyses of media language and representations as well as exploring notions of elitism in debates on multilingualism.
How have the words we use today come to mean what they do? How can language shed light on the historical movements of people? What role does misunderstanding have to play in the language we use today? All of these questions fascinate BCL members working in this area and our explorations of these questions and more contribute to our understanding of the history and development of English and other languages.
Research with Impact
The research produced by linguists in the Centre seeks to provide tangible benefits for the community we serve and beyond. We work with partners to understand the challenges they face which could be tackled through research on language and communication.