My research mainly concerns lexicology, lexical semantics and pragmatics, and lexicography --studying phenomena related to word meaning and how word meanings are learnt and stored in the mind. This often involves using corpus linguistic methodologies. My 'pet' phenomena are gradable adjective meaning, antonymy/contrast (and other semantic relations among words),  the names for social identity groups (i.e. racial/ethnic groups, sexual orientation identities, religious/political identities), and British/American English differences

Current projects include:

  • A book for a popular audience on the relationships, interactions and attitudes relating to British and American English.
  • The meanings please and thank you in British and American requests (with Rachele de Felice)
  • 'Dictionary cultures' in the US and UK

Projects of the last decade have included:

  • A textbook on lexical semantics for Cambridge University Press.
  • A jointly-authored reference book on semantics terminology for Continuum.
  • A jointly authored book on Antonymy in English (in production at Cambridge UP)
  • Investigation of aspects of formal and semantic parallelism in understanding contrast (with Steven Jones & Anu Koskela)
  • Comparison of the discourse functions of antonym pairs in Swedish and English (with Carita Paradis, Caroline Willners & Steven Jones)
  • Investigating antonym use in children's discourse and child-directed discourse (with Steven Jones)
  • A construction grammar account of the representation of antonym pairs in the mental lexicon.
  • A construction-based diachronic/cross-linguistic (Germanic) investigation of measure phrase + adjective constructions, like three feet tall, ?30 decibels loud, and #3 kilos heavy.
  • Ascertaining methodologies and definitions for determining 'canonical' or 'direct' antonym relations between words (with Steven Jones, Carita Paradis & Caroline Willners)
  • Looking at how non-lexicographers think and talk about dictionaries and finding synonyms.


I'm very interested in receiving doctoral proposals in lexicology, semantics, pragmatics, (meta)lexicography and related aspects of the relationship between American and British English.  I've supervised doctoral students on topics including:

  • Antonymy in Arabic
  • Motion events in Tunisian Arabic and TA>English interlanguage: pedagogical implications 
  • 'Vertical polysemy' (autohyponymy)
  • Modality in French>English interlanguage

I would be particularly interested in receiving proposals that relate to my own research interests.