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Associate Professor in English Language, University of Leeds

I joined the School of English at the University of Leeds in 2003. Before that, I was Research Assistant for the Scottish Corpus of Texts and Speech at the University of Glasgow.

MA, PhD University of Glasgow

My research straddles dialectology/sociolinguistics, corpus linguistics, discourse analysis and digital humanities. I research dialects of English (in England and Scotland) and the link between language and identity. Much of my work is corpus-based and predominantly lexical in focus, across a variety of text and discourse types. Over the years, I have built a variety of specialist corpora focusing on dialects, media language, public and political discourses. For the Dialect and Heritage Project, I am working in partnership with museum partners and the Brotherton Library’s Special Collections, and have developed data collection methods that incorporate public engagement activities and meaningful impact for participants, our partners, and public audiences as an integral part of the research process.

My first book, Scottish Newspapers, Language and Identity (Edinburgh University Press, 2009) is based on analysis of a sizeable diachronic newspaper corpus. It investigates which Scottish words and phrases the papers use and asks to what extent the use of identifiably Scottish lexical features helps them maintain their distinctive Scottish identities and appeal to their readerships. My second book, Political, Public and Media Discourses from Indyref to Brexit: The Divisive Language of Union (Palgrave, 2021) is another diachronic corpus-based study, and examines the divisive language surrounding debates on the futures of two unions: the United Kingdom and the European Union. I am currently working on a third monograph connected to the Dialect and Heritage Project.

The Dialect and Heritage Project (funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the University of Leeds’ Footsteps Fund and other alumni donations) focuses on the Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture - a unique and nationally important collection, which includes all of the original materials from the world-famous Survey of English Dialects (SED) and materials from the former Leeds Institute of Dialect and Folk-Life Studies. The project marries these rich resources with partner museums' complementary and contemporaneous artefact and building collections, putting the LAVC back into the communities from which it was originally collected. We are collecting present-day dialect from museum visitors, local communities, and online via the project website.


  • –present
    Associate professor, University of Leeds