My research has mainly concerned lexicology, lexical semantics and pragmatics, and lexicography —studying phenomena related to word meaning. This has increasingly has incorporated sociolinguistic interests, especially regarding national "standard" varieties of English and language attitudes. My work 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.

My current research projects include:

  • The meanings and use of thanking in British and American requests (with Rachele de Felice)
  • The use of 'please' on the web
  • How linguistic ideologies inform and deform British media accounts of the future of the English language (with Sandra Jansen & Mario Saraceni)
  • How linguistic ideologies shape transatlantic stereotypes of British and American English (with Justyna Robinson)
  • how polite forms are represented in dictionaries

Projects of the last decade have included:

  • A book for a popular audience on the relationships, interactions and attitudes relating to British and American English: The Prodigal Tongue (supported by the US National Endowment for the Humanities)
  • 'Dictionary cultures' in the US and UK (British Academy project)
  • An article on how 'please' is used in US and UK corporate emails (with Rachele De Felice)
  • A chapter on 'being a public linguist' for Applying Linguistics ed. by Dan McIntyre & Hazel Price
  • A bibliography on synonymy for Oxford Bibliographies.
  • A textbook on lexical semantics for Cambridge University Press: Lexical Meaning
  • A reference book on semantics terminology for Continuum: Key terms in Semantics (with Anu Koskela)
  • A jointly authored book Antonyms in English for Cambridge University Press (with Steve Jones, Carita Paradis and Caroine Willners)
  • 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, certain language variation projects (to do with lexicon, semantics and pragmatics), and certain discourse-oriented projects. I would be particularly interested in receiving proposals that relate to my own research interests, including:

  • socio-pragmatic and semantic variation in varieties of English (particularly with regard to politeness conventions , pragmatic/discourse markers, word meaning)
  • 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 national varieties of English

Please note that I do not supervise dissertations on the educational aspects of EFL/ESL teaching or research on pragmatic themes that relies only on artificial data (e.g. discourse completion tasks).

Past doctoral students have worked on topics like:

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