My research mainly concerns lexicology, lexical semantics and pragmatics, and lexicography —studying phenomena related to word meaning. 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), "polite" words (please, thanks, etc.), and British/American English differences and linguistic ideologies.


On that last topic, my 2018 book is:

My publications in press:

  • A book for a popular audience on the relationships, interactions and attitudes relating to British and American English.
  • A chapter on 'being a public linguist' for Applying Linguistics ed. by Dan McIntyre & Hazel Price
  • A bibliography on synonymy for Oxford Bibliographies


My current research projects include:

  • The meanings and use of thanking in British and American requests (with Rachele de Felice)
  • 'Dictionary cultures' in the US and UK (British Academy project)
  • The use of 'please' on the web
  • How linguistic ideologies inform and deform British media accounts of the future of the English language (wiht Sandra Jansen & Mario Saraceni)
  • How Americans stereotype British English words, and vice versa, in popular culture

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 for Cambridge University Press.
  • Comparing and explaing how 'please' is used in American and British English (with Rachele De Felice)
  • 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)
  • 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 would be particularly interested in receiving proposals that relate to my own research interests, including:

  • socio-pragmatic variation in varieties of English (particularly with regard to politeness conventions or pragmatic/discourse markers)
  • antonymy, synonymy and other word relations (in linguistic theory, in discourse, in acquisition, in lexicography...)
  • metalexicography (dictionaries in culture, culture in dictionaries)
  • the semantic development and usage of words for groups of people (socionyms)
  • linguistic relations and attitudes 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