Critical Linguistics research strand at Bristol Centre for Linguistics (BCL)

Current and recent projects under the Critical Linguistics strand of BCL's research.

Communicating coronavirus

Both Professor Jonathan Charteris-Black and Dr James Murphy (along with Dr Timothy Gibson, Senior Lecturer in Professional Writing) are currently exploring public discourse around coronavirus. Charteris-Black is particularly interested to see if the language used to communicate influences people’s view of risk (e.g. does the use of war metaphors make people more risk-averse?). Murphy and Gibson are working on the government’s use of the Daily Coronavirus Briefing with an especial focus on aggressive questioning in that setting.

Language in institutional settings

Professor Jonathan Charteris-Black and Dr James Murphy are both interested in political discourse, with Charteris-Black having an especial interest in the rhetoric of political speeches and Murphy focussing on the pragmatics of parliamentary language. In addition to Dr Charlotte Selleck and Dr Luke Rudge, they both are interested in how power is manifest in language and how linguistic choices are influenced by wider social resources (culture, ideology and history).

Charteris-Black has written extensively on political speeches, the communication of leadership and religious discourse. He has delivered various seminars for policymakers, politicians and speechwriters.

Murphy has recently completed a book-length project on public inquiries (The Discursive Construction of Blame: The Language of Public Inquiries) and he continues to be interested in this setting, with current work exploring the relatively new phenomenon of commemoration at public inquiries.

Language and (new) media

Professor Jonathan Charteris-Black's monograph, Metaphors of Brexit: No Cherries on the Cake, used Twitter as an important data source to explore which phrases and metaphors were key to the Brexit campaign. In comparing these to traditional news media, political cartoons and political speeches, he argued that the different linguistic frames used by Leave and Remain were crucial in the outcome of the referendum.

Dr Luke Rudge carries out multimodal research on traditional and online media – exploring the role which colour, typeface, images and other extralinguistic aspects play in the communication of messages. He has recently published work on the front covers of real-life magazines which examiners the contradictions found in this genre.