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Professor of Linguistics, Lancaster University

Fascinated since a young age by language and what it tells us about what makes us human, I consider myself to be very lucky to be a linguist. I studied at the Universities of Amsterdam and Manchester, and since 2003 have worked at Lancaster University.

My research is mainly in the area of cognitive linguistics, which attempts to understand aspects of language from the point of view of what we know about cognition more generally. There is in fact two-traffic here: our understanding of linguistic phenomena may shed light on certain psychological questions too.

I have a more recent interest in forensic linguistics as well, especially in the area of verbal deception detection.

Last but not least, I have a long-standing interest in language education. I enjoy working with schools and teachers and engaging in debates about teaching and assessing English and other languages. I am the Chair of the Education Committee of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain (LAGB) and a member (and former Secretary and Chair) of the Committee for Linguistics in Education (CLiE).


  • 2021–present
    Chair professor, Lancaster University
  • 2022–2023
    Executive Dean (Interim), Lancaster University
  • 2016–2022
    Associate Dean, Lancaster University


  • 2003 
    University of Manchester, PhD Linguistics
  • 2000 
    University of Manchester, MA English Language & Linguistics
  • 1999 
    University of Amsterdam, MA English Linguistics and Literature