PhD Funding

ESRC Studentship in Language and Communication at Cardiff 2015/16

The Centre for Language and Communication Research (CLCR) is able to support applications for one Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) 3 year PhD studentship to commence on 1 October 2015, covering tuition fees plus a generous stipend, on a competitive basis within the ESRC Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) Wales Consortium, led by Cardiff University.  Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the course for which they are seeking funding, including for the purposes of full-time education. EU Nationals who do not meet the above residency requirement are eligible for a fees only award, provided that they have been ordinarily resident in the EU for at least 3 years prior to the start of their proposed programme of study. We would welcome applications in  the following areas: 

  • Systemic Functional Linguistics applied to any of the topics listed below
  • Psycholinguistics, especially written language production and/or using keystroke logging methods
  • Discourse Analysis, especially used a quantitative or mixed methods approach
  • Corpus Studies
  • Studies of language Development/Attrition/impairment
  • Bilingualism/Multilingualism
  • Language Change and variation
  • Attitudes to Language
  • Professional discourse including Forensic linguistics and Health communication
  • Language variation
  • New media discourse
  • Language attitudes

The ESRC website has a very helpful section on frequently asked questions about the award scheme.

In order to be considered for a studentship, you firstly need to apply for a place on PhD Language and Communication Research programme in the Centre for Language and Communication Research at Cardiff University via the University’s Direct Application Service.  As well as your application, you will need to supply the following supporting documents: 2 academic references, a detailed research proposal, personal statement, copies of your degree certificates and a transcript of the marks.  In the research proposal (around 1,000 words, 3-4 pages) please outline your rationale, proposed methodology, and research objectives, including a short bibliography.  In your personal statement, we would like you to tell us about why you are applying for a PhD – what your current situation is, whether you need a PhD for your own personal development, or for professional reasons, what your experience has been to date as a student/researcher/teacher in the area of English Language and Communication, and why you have chosen Cardiff as an appropriate research environment for your particular area of interest.

Once you have an offer of a place on the PhD Language and Communication Research programme you will be eligible to apply for ESRC funding.  You will need to submit a separate ESRC application form which can be downloaded from 

ESRC Studentship Application Form – English

ESRC Studentship Referee Report Form – English

or can be obtained from the School Postgraduate Office (email Please submit your ESRC Studentship Application Form to

The deadline for funding is 5 p.m. Friday 30 January 2015.   

For further details, please contact: 

Rhian Rattray, Postgraduate Manager for the School of English, Communication and Philosophy. Email:

LinC summer school

Plans for our summer school in September 2014 are coming along nicely. Registration is now open and you will find details on our website:

We are offering two courses: one in Corpus Linguistics and one that is an introduction to systemic functional linguistics.

Outline for the course in Corpus Linguistics

Gerard O’Grady: 
Marking up a spoken corpus using Praat software?

Gill Francis: 
Directions of change in verb patterns

Geoff Thompson:
SFL and corpora: how do we match meanings and strings?

Serge Sharoff: 
The dimensions of genre classification and annotation practice for large corpora.

Stella Neumann:
Why use statistics in corpus studies, plus workshop using R.

Mick O’Donnell:
New features in the UAM CorpusTool

Ben Clarke:
Context and Corpus and workshop in using Elan

Outline for the Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics

Tom Bartlett: 
Experiential Meaning

Lise Fontaine:
Interpersonal Meaning

Geoff Thompson:
Textual Meaning

Mick O’Donnell:
Introduction to using the UAM CorpusTool

Lise Fontaine:
The nominal group and working out internal group structures

Tom Bartlett:
Applying Systemic Functional Linguistics

We are still accepting abstract submissions for the poster session, see the website for details.

Functional and Cognitive perspectives on the noun phrase

Recently I was invited to speak at the PGR conference at the University of Sfax in Tunisia. It was a real pleasure to take part in the event and hear about the very good research that is going on in the Laboratory in Approaches to Discourse (LAD).

Here’s the abstract for my talk:

This seminar aims to explore the use of a combined methodological framework (or multi-method design, cf. de Monnink, 1999; Angouri, 2010) to phenomenon based linguistic research. Using two case studies as examples, I will critically examine the use of a multi-method approach and consider the advantages and limitations in each case. The particular area of interest is the noun phrase within both functional (Fontaine, 2012) and cognitive (Dabrowska, 2010) perspectives. The study of the noun phrase is at times made difficult because of its status at three key levels (or strata) of language: below the clause as a unit with its own structure and functions; at clause level as an expression of significant elements of the clause (e.g. Theme/Subject/Actor); and at discourse level as a referring expression that is contextually bound. The decision to focus on one level only is often taken at the expense of the others.  A multi-method approach can, depending on the research objectives, resolve some of these issues.


Angouri, Jo. (2010) Quantitative, Qualitative or Both? Combining methods in Linguistic Research. In Litosseliti, L. (ed.) Research Methods in Linguistics. London: Continuum.

Dąbrowska, E. (2010). The mean lean grammar machine meets the human mind: Empirical investigations of the mental status of rules. In H.-J. Schmid & S. Handl (Eds.), Cognitive foundations of linguistic usage patterns. Empirical approaches Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 151-170.

De Mönnink, Inge  (1999). ON THE MOVE. The mobility of constituents in the English noun phrase: a multi-method approach. Language and Computers 31. []

Fontaine, L. (2012) Analysing English Grammar. Cambridge: CUP.

Here I am in action, with thanks to Ameni Halioui!

sfax presentation

On analysing the exchanges of spoken discourse

LinC seminar by Margaret Berry

Abstract. What is really going on in the exchanges in which we engage in spoken discourse? How can we analyse such exchanges in such a way as to bring out the knowledge relations and the power relations, or the politeness relations and  the solidarity relations, between the speakers? Do the same kinds of exchange occur in sequences of letters or emails, though with longer time lapses between the moves? The session will revisit work on exchange structure from the nineteen-seventies and nineteen-eighties and will introduce a framework for analysis which combines a Hallidayan metafunctional approach with the approach of the then Birmingham school. Information will be provided on currently ongoing work in Australia which uses the framework in connection with various forms of pedagogic discourse, interviews with young offenders, the language of people with traumatic brain injury or other intellectual disability, and on work in the UK relevant to politeness and solidarity relations between close friends. Members of the audience will be invited to join in bits of analysis along the way to try out the framework and its relevance to various forms of discourse.

March 11, 3-5pm, room 3.66 in the John Percival Building, Cardiff University.

corpus methods to explore academic and scientific texts

How to use corpus methods to explore academic and scientific texts   

A LinC seminar by Maria Freddi 


This seminar builds on both corpus linguistics methods and genre studies to approach academic and scientific texts in an attempt to pinpoint some of the features of disciplinary variation. The starting point is a pedagogical concern that despite the existing descriptions of features of academic and scientific writing, it is sometimes difficult for an EAP course instructor to identify the reasons for the complexity of authentic academic texts in relation to different disciplines. In the course of the seminar I will thus address the following questions: how much of disciplinary variation can be grasped by concordancing academic texts? More specifically, can nominal vs. clausal complexity in academic and scientific writing be observed systematically through corpus observation tools? And if so, what are the pedagogical implications of these findings and relevance for EAP reading and writing programmes? I will try to answer these questions by leading the audience through a number of examples and discussion of methodology and epistemological tools used.


Location: Room 3.66 Tuesday March 25th

Tools of the trade

LinC Workshop

Tools of the trade: Software for exploring linguistic and communicative patternings.

Ben Clarke, Portsmouth University

The following workshop will be held Wednesday, November 13, 2013.

4pm-6pm.  Room 3.58 John Percival Building, Cardiff University.

Tools of the trade: Software for exploring linguistic and communicative patternings 

In this workshop, I demonstrate ‘live’ the use of several computational software packages for conducting the analysis of patterned linguistic and communicative behaviour in natural data. The tools considered are ELANUAM CorpusToolSketchEngine and AntConc. As well as offering some brief but summative impressions of the potential of the software packages in general, I illustrate the tools’ principles with reference to data and analysis from an on-going project of my own (Clarke, 2012). Here, I explore whether ellipsis of the situationally-recoverable type is coordinated with recurrent and patterned behaviour in embodied semiotic systems.



Clarke, B.P. (2012) ‘A multi-modal analysis of situationally recoverable types of ellipsis: Which of the embodied modalities are implicated?’. 6th International Conference on Multimodality, University of London, August 2012.


Comic Books project

Comic Books project with Cardiff University

The Centre for Language and Communication Research (CLCR) is delighted to announce that the HIV/AIDS education comic stories produced in South Africa as a result of Dr Lisa El Refaie‘s research into metaphor and autobiographical comics can now be viewed at

Whizzkids United (WKU) teamed up with CLCR and ENCAP at Cardiff Universityfor a youth development workshop at the WKU Health Academy. 29 boys and girls attended the workshop and participated in the activities, which included ‘Tree-of-Life’ sessions, team building games and a comic strip workshop, which helped the youth to express their feelings and communicate about challenges in their lives.

At the end of the workshop all participants had gained confidence, made new friends, received a certificate, and produced a great piece of comic work. ENCAPtook the comics and had them produced professionally so they could be shared with our global supporters.

Please visit the page to see what fabulous work was done in Kwa-zulu Natal by teenagers with or at risk of HIV, using Lisa‘s research.

If you know anyone who is involved in world health work, HIV education, or in telling stories through comics, please tell them about this project and ask them to pass the word around.

This has been a wonderful team effort and many thanks are due to:

  • Lisa El Refaie for the original research and for designing the training materials
  • Upside Comics and Ian Williams for expert input on materials
  • Marcus McGilvray, Ben Edwards and many members of the Whizzkids United (WKU) Health Academy team in Edendale, South Africa for delivering the materials there (Marcus has also delivered the workshops in Ghana)
  • The teenagers who produced the cartoons
  • Steve Marchant for making the booklet so professional and colourful
  • Nathan Heslop in ENCAP for creating the booklet and pdfs for us
  • Stefan Kunze of WKU for putting the website together
  • Sponsors of the WKU and the workshops including Meal a DayLiverpool FC Foundation and Bic
  • Stephen Rouse and the Cardiff Impact team and for practical and financial support.
  • The ENCAP Impact team, esp Frances Rock for lots of advice, Julie Alford and Rebecca Galimberti for scanning and saving images, and Nathan Heslop and Dean Burnett for ensuring they were readable.

Word Grammar

A workshop on Word Grammar with Prof Dick Hudson

On Thursday May 23 2013, Prof Dick Hudson visited us at Cardiff University to explain a bit more about Word Grammar generally and to tackle a few issues that we’ve been working on in our own research. The slides from parts of this are available on Dick’s website here.

It was very interesting and I learned a lot – I love sessions like this that really make you think and make you challenge your own ideas about theory, representation and practice. I found Word Grammar quite compatible with my own interests in systemic functional linguistics and in cognitive linguistics. I first heard about Word Grammar years ago when I was living in France. I was interested in dependency approaches to grammatical theory. Word Grammar strikes me as the most accessible.

As explained in the workshop, Word Grammar makes the following claims:

  • Language is just ordinary knowledge applied to words
  • This means that language is a mental network
  • The nodes in this network are conceptual; i.e. they are concepts and can been seen as atoms
  • The concepts are defined by their links to other concepts
  • The organisation of the network (concepts) is by ISA hierarchies.

Word Grammar is a usage based account of language, where the network is built out of episodic memories. It makes a distinction between tokens, which are ad hoc creations, and types, which are stored. Since tokens have distinct properties, they are treated as distinct concepts. In this sense, tokens are affected by context.

There is much more to be said about all of this of course! If you are interested, then have a look at Dick’s website where you will find many resources including papers and links to his books.

In terms of my own interests, I have been working on the problem of what I’ve been calling ‘p-items’ (prepositions, particles etc.) and the workshop was particularly helpful in developing my thinking on this. As Dick pointed out in the workshop, different syntax tends to express different meaning. However, he also added a very important point and this is that synchronic properties reflect diachonry. We discussed the case of AROUND, which etymologically is rooted in a PREP + NOUN construction (ON + ROUND). There are quite a few modern ‘words’ like this that seem to maintain their preposition function in some instances/uses and their noun function in others. So AROUND seems to be a kind of flexible word (type) that can be used in a PREPOSITION slot (e.g. around the pole) and in a NOUN slot (e.g. He is around cf He is home or He is here). So I’ll be looking to see if Word Grammar can help me finish off my paper on p-items that is long overdue!

How does Language Work?

The How Does Language Work? Conference will be held at Aston University, Thursday 27th June and/or Friday 28th June, 2013.

I’ll be teaching there on Friday June 28th, where I will be giving a session on the noun phrase (nominal group) and focussing specifically on the role of nominalisation.

My collegues Tom Bartlett and Gerard O’Grady will also be taking part. Tom will examine the clause as a pattern of wording built around a verb and how they can be combined to expand meaning potential. Gerard will explore Halliday’s notion of “theme”.

We’re really exciting about taking part in this – it looks like a great event and a great opportunity to really engage with teachers who have such an important impact on students’ understanding of how language works. The aim of this conference is to help “move learners from everyday language to the academic language needed to succeed”.

Here is he full list of speakers:
Professor J R Martin, University of Sydney (Australia)
Associate Professor Sue Hood, University of Technology (Australia)
Tom Bartlett, Cardiff University (UK)
Lise Fontaine, Cardiff University (UK)
Gerard O’Grady, Cardiff University (UK)
Geoff Thompson, University of Liverpool (UK)
Brian Dare, Director of Lexis Education and international consultant for language and literacy

For more information see the conference website: <a href=””