Bristol Centre for Linguistics seminar series and events

Seminar series

The Bristol Centre for Linguistics (BCL) runs a series of research seminars throughout the year. All seminars are free to attend.

Winter Seminar Series 2020-21

The seminars will be held online on Wednesdays, 13:00-14:00.

The fear of the slipper slope: Conscious suppression of modality in family language policy.
Date: 11 November 2020
Speakers: Dr Annelies Kusters and Professor Jemina Napier (Heriot-Watt University)

Football, sexuality, and /s/: A sociophonetic study of /s/ realisations and the intersection of gender, sexuality, and sport.
Date: 18 November 2020
Speaker: Dr Salina Cuddy (University of Sheffield)

Teenagers say the darnedest things: Social class and linguistic discrimination in Dublin secondary schools.
Date: 25 November 2020
Speaker: Dr Stephen Lucek

Title to be confirmed
Date: 13 January 2021
Speaker: Professor Ana Deumert (University of Cape Town)

For further details, or to be added to the mailing list for information about future events organised by the Bristol Centre for Linguistics, contact Dr James Murphy, Acting Director of BCL.

Call for papers

Discourse-pragmatic markers, fillers and filled pauses: Pragmatic, multi-modal, socio- and  psycholinguistic perspectives  
14-15 July 2021, UWE Bristol Frenchay Campus,

The aim of this workshop is to bring together scholars working on so-called 'fillers' and filled pauses from pragmatic, multi-modal, psycho- and sociolinguistic backgrounds.  

The last 25 to 30 years have seen an explosion of research and publications on discourse and pragmatic markers, and the development of the Discourse-Pragmatic Variation and Change network. 

Less work has been done to integrate psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic, or indeed multimodal, approaches to these phenomena, though many publications acknowledge the speech processing functions of fillers and filled pauses. These are the interdisciplinary gaps which the current workshop aims to address, hoping to begin a dialogue between scholars with different perspectives on these difficult-to-define items and to investigate their constructions and collostructions in spontaneous speech in English and other languages. 

Invited plenary speakers are:

The questions we will be posing are:

  • do discourse markers, fillers and/or filled pauses constitute 'constructions' ? 
  • what characterises different discourse marker and filler constructions? Are there universals across different languages? 
  • how do children acquire discourse markers and fillers? 
  • how do second language learners acquire discourse markers and fillers? (Should they?) 
  • what attitudes and ideologies surround discourse markers, fillers and filled pauses? (eg stereotypically considered to be non-standard and indicate less educated and less articulate speakers) 
  • are there conventionalised combinations of DMs, fillers and filled pauses and paralinguistic features such as High-Rise Terminals, raised eye-brows or rise-fall intonation? 
  • discourse markers, fillers and filled pauses in contact situations: MATter or PATtern? 

We invite abstracts (300 words) which address these questions and which provide empirical evidence in relation to: 

  • the status of discourse markers, fillers and filled pauses 
  • descriptive studies of filled pause collostructions
  • sociolinguistic aspects of  fillers and filled pauses 
  • child and second language acquisition of fillers 
  • the role of paralinguistic features in collostructions with DMs, fillers and filled pauses 
  • bilingual filled pause collostructions in contact situations.

You are required to submit your abstracts by 14 February 2021.

Submit your abstract.   


Past seminars

Seminar series 2019-20

Why everything you thought you knew about language is wrong
Date: 25 March 2020
Speaker: Ben Ambridge (University of Liverpool)

Applying linguistics to sport: Putting language use in professional rugby teams under the microscope
Date: 4 March 2020
Speaker: Kieran File (University of Warwick)

The multilingual origins of Standard English
Date: 12 February 2020
Speaker: Laura Wright (University of Cambridge)

Paragogic consonants: A phonological puzzle in Norman French
Date: 29 January 2020
Speaker: Richard Coates (UWE Bristol)

Language learning practices with Learning by Developing and OIL in Higher Education in Finland
Date: 22 January 2020
Speaker: Kristina Henriksson (Laurea University, Finland)

Modality, iconicity and the evolution of language
Date: 16 October 2019
Speaker: Hannah Little (UWE Bristol)

Present day sound change in the dialects of Worcestershire and Herefordshire
Date: 30 October 2019
Speaker: Esther Asprey (Open University)

Ethnolinguistic identity construction and Gaelic language revitalisation in Nova Scotia, Canada
Date: 6 November 2019
Speaker: Stuart Dunmore (Edinburgh University)

Gender, language and parliamentary participation
Date: 20 November 2019
Speaker: Sylvia Shaw (Westminster University)

Teenagers say the darnedest things: Social class and linguistic discrimination in Dublin secondary schools
Date: 4 December 2019
Speaker: Stephen Lucek

Seminar series 2018-19

Features of the English spoken on the Isle of Man
Date: 7 November 2018
Speaker: Andrew Booth

Code-switching: Cognitive perspectives
Date: 21 November 2018
Speaker: Jeanine Treffers-Daller (University of Reading)

Mock (im)politeness
Date: 5 December 2018
Speaker: Charlotte Taylor (University of Sussex)

Connecting our worlds to our words: Influence of gender nonconformity on pronoun comprehension
Date: 12 December 2018
Speaker: Lauren Ackerman (Newcastle University)

Naming Shirehampton and the name Shirehampton
Date: 6 February 2019
Speaker: Richard Coates (UWE Bristol)

Ethics, morals and principles in language and gender research: Working with toxic communities in online spaces
Date: 20 February 2019
Speaker: Rob Lawson (Birmingham City University)

Language and neoliberalism in higher education
Date: 20 March 2019
Speaker: Helen Sauntson (York St John University)

Sentence production in Australian free word order languages
Date: 3 April 2019
Speaker: Evan Kidd (Max Planck Institute, Nijmegen)

Seminar series 2017-18

Subverting otherness and challenging ignorance: The interactive construction of discursive identity in a transgender youth group
Date: 18 October 2017
Speaker: Lucy Jones (University of Nottingham)

Developing understanding of different perspectives in language and false-belief tasks: Evidence from German, English and Mandarin
Date: 1 November 2017
Speaker: Silke Brandt (University of Lancaster)

Extended uses of names: From paragons to analogies
Date: 22 November 2017
Speaker: Anu Koskela (De Montfort University)

'Forgiveness' as an unforgiving act: Exploring the interplay of image and text
Date: 6 December 2017
Speaker: Laura Kilby (Sheffield Hallam University)

Public discourses on multilingualism in the UK: Benefits of using a mixed method approach to study discourse
Date: 7 February 2018
Speaker: Sylvia Jaworska (University of Reading)
Location: Room 2S611

Technical language and semantic shift in Middle English
Date: 21 February 2018
Speaker: Harry Parkin (University of Westminster)
Location: Room 2S611

The Gersum Project: Classification and analysis of Norse-derived terms in Middle English
Date 7 March 2018
Speaker: Sara Pons-Sanz (University of Cardiff)

I want hold Postman Pat – An investigation into the source(s) of grammatical errors in children’s language
Date: 11 April 2018
Speaker: Minna Kirjavainen-Morgan (UWE Bristol)

Seminar series 2016-17

Morphosyntactic features in South American languages
Date: 12 October 2016
Speaker: Joshua Birchall

Social salience discriminates learnability of contextual cues in an artificial language
Date: 19 October 2016
Speaker: Peter Racz (University of Bristol)

Phonological awareness and word reading acquisition in Acehnese-Indonesian bilingual context
Date: 26 October 2016
Speaker: Septhia Irnanda (UWE Bristol)

Performing a Welsh accent on Twitter: How, but also, why?
Date: 2 November 2016
Speaker: Mercedes Durham (Cardiff University)

Impersonal morphology and verb classes
Date: 23 November 2016
Speaker: Laura Arman (University of Manchester)

The interference of orthography in the pronunciation and phonological awareness of Italian learners of English
Date: 8 February 2017
Speaker: Paulo Mariano (University of Warwick)

Phonetic transfer during language contact: The mid-vowels of Occitan-French bilinguals
Date: 22 February 2017
Speaker: Damien Mooney (University of Bristol)

Seminar series 2015-16

“Sounds Bristolian”: Generational shifts and geographical diffusion
Date: 21 October 2015
Speaker: Kate Beeching/Emily Robinson/James Murphy/Richard Coates (UWE Bristol)

Refusals to apologise and using apologies to refuse
Date: 28 October 2015
Speaker: James Murphy (UWE Bristol)

Contact in Papapana
Date: 11 November 2015
Speaker: Ellen Smith (University College London)

William Gladstone as Linguist
Date: 18 November 2015
Speaker: Geoffrey Sampson (University of Sussex)

Seminar series 2014-15

Geography, Literature, Onomastics: The rural and suburban history of Sunnyside
Date: 15 October 2014
Speaker: Laura Wright (University of Cambridge)

West Midlands English dialect revealed by tax returns
Date: 22 October 2014
Speaker: Harry Parkin (UWE Bristol)

Variation in lower-class writing: 19th century patient letters from southern Germany
Date: 5 November 2014
Speaker: Markus Schiegg (University of Bristol)

Some more aspects of the Pragmatic Theory of Properhood
Date: 12 November 2014
Speaker: Richard Coates (UWE Bristol)

Analysing the accounts of people affected by dementia
Date: 28 January 2015
Speaker: Rik Cheston (UWE Bristol)

Political apologies in non-monologic settings
Date: 4 February 2015
Speaker: James Murphy (UWE Bristol)

Speech therapy and child language development
Date: 11 February 2015
Speaker: Sue Roulstone (UWE Bristol)

Patterns of thanking in UK service calls
Date: 25 February 2015
Speaker: Maj-Britt Mosegaard-Hansen (University of Manchester)

Formulaic language, language processing and interpersonal communication
Date: 4 March 2015
Speaker: Alison Wray (University of Cardiff)

Grammar checking in English and Spanish
Date: 11 March 2015
Speaker: Rubén Chacón-Beltrán (University of Madrid)

The Spoken British National Corpus 2014 Project
Date: 25 March 2015
Speaker: Tony McEnery (Lancaster University)

Seminar series 2013-14

European language policy: A legal perspective
Date: 16 October 2013
Speaker: Vit Dovalil (Prague and Freiburg)

Metaphor in psychotherapy: Implications for utterance interpretation
Date: 13 November 2013
Speaker: Isabelle Needham-Didsbury (University College London)

Caveats for contact linguistics from Cappadocian Greek
Date: 4 December 2013
Speaker: Petros Karatsareas (UWE Bristol)

'Making sculptures out of smoke': Using narrative and creative writing to develop students' reflexivity
Date: 11 December 2013
Speaker: Catherine Rosenberg (UWE Bristol)

The role of Anglo-Norman in the history of English: shift-induced contact influence?
Date: 5 February 2014
Speaker: Richard Ingham (Birmingham City)

Where are the limits of the name? Some remaining issues with The Pragmatic Theory of Properhood
Date: 5 March 2014
Speaker: Richard Coates (UWE Bristol)

Creole in local newspapers
Date: 19 March 2014
Speaker: Julie Blake (University of Bristol)

Metaphor, agency and chronic pain
Date: 26 March 2014
Speaker: Jonathan Charteris-Black (UWE Bristol) – Abstract (PDF)

Past conferences

iMean 6 (2019)

The iMean 6 conference was held at Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand) between 15 to 17 April 2019. View the iMean 6 brochure (PDF) to find out more about the 'weaving' theme, speakers, activities, timeline, and venue. Read about the 2019 iMean 6 conference.

iMean 5 (2017)

The iMean 5 conference was held from 6 to 8 April 2017 at UWE Bristol's Exhibition and Conference Centre (ECC). This conference maintained its traditional focus on meaning in social interaction, with a thematic orientation to language and change.

Invited plenary speakers were:

  • Gisle Andersen, NHH Norwegian School of Economics
  • Christine Béal, Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3
  • Jenny Cheshire, Queen Mary, University of London
  • Michael Haugh, University of Queensland
  • Barbara Johnstone, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Zuraidah Mohd Don, University of Malaya

We considered changes at the linguistic level but also how changes at a societal level affect linguistic usage and our conceptions and analysis of it. Our increasingly interconnected and fast-moving world has led to an upsurge in mobility and to the possibility of greater variation and change in language use. The linguistically diverse nature of contemporary societies has implications for social justice, with potentially differential access to the public sphere.

Different contexts of use and new media may also bring new styles and manners of expression. As society changes, so must our conceptual and epistemological models and old questions and concepts require new approaches and angles.

i-Mean 4 (2015)

i-Mean 4 was held at the University of Warwick between 9 April - 11 April 2015. The conference addressed the relationship between 'Language and Impact'. Further details can be found via the University of Warwick conference page.

i-Mean 3

The conference aimed to explore whether and to what extent bringing together different methodological and theoretical approaches can:

  • Enhance understanding of identity attribution in interaction.
  • Lead to theoretically robust methodological innovation.

Exploring how speakers use language to claim an identity has been explored but also challenged in the various traditions (ranging from mainstream sociolinguistic theory to linguistic anthropology). In the broadly defined field of sociolinguistics, there are many conceptualisations of 'identity'. Through language, we actively construct and negotiate our self and social identities. It is through language that we index, directly and indirectly, who we are, how we wish to be perceived and where we (want to) belong. We see identity as (not exclusively but to a large extent) a linguistic phenomenon, dynamic and constantly evolving.

i-Mean 2 (2011)

The conference addressed the relationship between context and meaning, how context may be defined, how meaning is interpreted in context, how speakers create and negotiate context in interaction, and how context is dealt with in different research traditions. We seek to explore ways in which researchers can fruitfully work across methodological and disciplinary boundaries. Particularly in the (broadly defined) field of discourse analysis, there are widely recognised approaches which are often associated with specific methodological tools.

The conference aimed to explore whether and to what extent bringing together different methodological and theoretical approaches can:

  • Enhance understanding of meaning in interaction.
  • Capture the contextual information which speakers draw upon dynamically in interaction.
  • Lead to theoretically robust methodological innovation.

Papers were invited from researchers working across different linguistic fields and traditions, focusing on any aspect of meaning and context.

i-Mean 1 (2009)

The conference aimed to disseminate cutting edge, multi-disciplinary research in the area of meaning in interaction. It was unique in bringing together scholars working on meaning in interaction and others working on the impact of interaction on language structure. The two constituencies share an interest in the manner in which meaning is co-constructed and negotiated between interactants, thus leading to a form/function reconfiguration. The complexities of the interpretation of meaning can be more acute in intercultural encounters.

The conference thus extended its scope to include the relatively new sub-discipline of intercultural pragmatics. It was timely in reflecting a rising interest across a number of fields in issues in interpreting meaning. The conference hosted two colloquia on Workplace Discourse and Meaning in Diachrony.

Download and view the conference proceedings (PDF).

Keynote speakers:

  • Professor Janet Holmes (Victoria University of Wellington, NZ)
  • Professor Elizabeth Traugott (Stanford University, USA)
  • Dr Helen Spencer-Oatey (University of Warwick)
  • Dr Véronique Traverso (Université de Lyon)

i-Mean 1 was supported by: