Summer Internships

The following is the first of a series of posts from students who were undergraduate interns over the summer with the Bristol Centre for Linguistics.  First up: Poppy and Armony.


So you’re thinking of applying for that internship?! Here’s what you need to know.

An undergraduate internship in Linguistics is a great opportunity if you want to spend a summer learning about topics within your course in more depth. You will get an insight into your lecturers’ work and research and what life would be like in an academic position, with an added bonus of extra cash!

As interns over the past few months, we have consolidated knowledge relevant to our final year which has helped us in our studies, especially with choosing a topic for our final year project.

The positions that were available last year related to Linguistic Relativity and The ‘Sounds Bristolian’ project, both part of the research conducted by the Bristol Centre for Linguistics (BCL).

The main tasks of the Linguistic Relativity position focused on the development of experimental materials, including ethical considerations (e.g. putting together documents for ethical approval, etc.), and analysis of child language data. Using transcription software (ELAN) and literature research were also part of this position.

The focus of the ‘Sounds Bristolian’ internship was work towards the project itself, including ELAN transcription and interview organisation. Other tasks included corpus research (from Hansard political corpus to twitter), poster production, and assisting with the FaNUK project (Family names of the United Kingdom).

We also had the good fortune of being invited to help in a faculty event at M-Shed. This event was a large display of interesting work carried out by different researchers within the Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education at UWE. As undergraduate interns, we were made to feel fully involved in the showcase of linguistic research and a valuable addition to the team. For this, we would like to thank the BCL staff and faculty members. (An honourable mention also goes to the catering team at M-Shed who provided food and cake)

–Armony & Poppy.



L–R: Richard Coates holds court; Poppy with some of the BCL crew; the view from M-Shed.


Welcoming new staff

We’ve been making additions to the team over the summer!  We are pleased to introduce Charlotte Selleck and Luke Rudge as our two new Senior Lecturers in English Language and Linguistics.  This makes three new members of the team in 2017 since Minna Kirjavainen joined us in January.  We are really excited to welcome Charlotte and Luke to the department.  Here’s what they have to say about themselves:


Charlotte Selleck

Hi. I’m very much looking forward to starting at UWE later this month. I’m coming to UWE having spent the last 2 years working at the University of Worcester, teaching English Language and Linguistics.

I started out on my academic journey (not that I ever planned to complete a PhD!) when I studied music as an undergraduate student at Cardiff University. During these fun-filled days I taught English as a foreign language in an attempt to pay for my shopping habit! Little did I know that it would spark an interest in all things language and linguistics and I went on to complete my Masters in Applied Linguistics and then subsequently a PhD in Sociolinguistics at Cardiff University. My PhD research addressed students’ experiences and perceptions of language ideologies in bilingual Welsh/English education and questioned the gulf between inclusive policy and exclusionary practice. I have published a number of articles on this work and have some exciting new research plans!

In TB1, I will be teaching the Constructing a Humanity module as part of the new Liberal Arts programme as well as the Language, Research and the Workplace module. I will also be covering a session in English Past, Present and Future.  In TB2, I will teach Meaning, Style and Discourse; English Past, Present and Future and Language, Research and the Workplace.

Outside of work, I’m kept busy by my two young children and have a complete addiction to booking holidays and travelling (I have a travel blog as a sideline!).


Luke Rudge

My academic career so far could be described as a boomerang:* over the past 10 years and between different jobs, I’ve completed my undergraduate degree in French and Linguistics, my PGCE, and my Ph.D research, all at UWE. And here I am again… although this time around I’m the tutor rather than the tutee!

My Ph.D research explored if and how languages in the visual-spatial modality – in my case, British Sign Language – may be modelled in the framework of Systemic Functional Linguistics (spoiler alert: it can!). However, my research interests also include: the intersection of language and technology, the social and contextual elements of interaction, and aspects of non-verbal communication. I’m not averse to interdisciplinary research, and I’m looking forward to doing more collaborative projects as I progress through my career.

For the 2017-18 academic year, I’ll be leading two modules on the English Language and Linguistics course: “Language and the Mind” (Year 2) and “Analysing Spoken English” (Year 3). I’ll also be teaching in other modules such as “Constructing Languages” (Year 1) and “Analysing Culture: Language and the Visual” (Year 2). If you’re on these courses, expect immersive content, interactive seminars, and the more-than-occasional pun and/or meme (sorry, not sorry).

Outside of academia, you can find me** travelling, gaming, learning languages, thinking of creative excuses for not going to the gym, and spending far too much time on the Internet. That latter is all in the name of research, though. Honest.

See you around S-block!

* But then there’s the question of agency: am I the boomerang, or is UWE boomeranging into my life? Place bets now!

** Not to be interpreted as a challenge.

Summer reading — Level 2

This is the first in a series of posts giving suggestions for reading that you could be getting on with over the summer.   Students going in to level 2 will be well advised to dip into some of these texts in preparation for the new academic year (I know — we’ve only just finished this one, but you can’t start too early!!).

Language Acquisition

TB1 a reading list consisting of a number of chapters from different textbooks, but recommended reading is:


  •  Ambridge & Lieven
  • Selected chapters from Handbook of cognitive linguistics and second language acquisition (2008) (Eds. Robinson, P. & Ellis, N. C.)

Language and the Mind

TB1: a mixture of different books. Recommended reading includes:

  • Harley, T.A. (2010) Talking the Talk, chapters 5-8: LINK
  • Paul Warren’s (2012) Introducing Psycholinguistics, chapters 1-9: LINK

TB2: a mixture of texts, including as recommended reading:

Boroditsky, L. Schmidt, L. & Phillips, W. (2003) Sex, syntax, and semantics. In Gentner & Golding-Meadow (Eds.) Language in Mind: Advance in the study of Language and Cognition.

Language, research and the workplace

TB1: reading is set weekly on a variety of journal articles.  Students may wish to consult: Holmes, Janet & Maria Stubbe. 2015. Power and politeness in the workplace. Abingdon: Routledge.

TB2: most of the reading on this half of the module will be led by the research project that you undertake.  However, a useful book on research methods is:

Podesva, Robert & Devyani Sharma (2013) Research methods in linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Analysing culture: language and the visual

TB1: to be confirmed.

TB2: Jackson, H., and E. Ze Amvela (2000) Words, meaning and vocabulary. Bloomsbury.

Country names on Word of Mouth

Our very own Professor in Linguistics/Onomastics, Richard Coates, was on BBC Radio 4’s Word of Mouth programme talking about country names.  If you missed it, you can catch up here.  Richard discusses how countries get their names, who names them and why they can vary from language to language.  He also brings his place names expertise to bear on the thorny issue of what to call the United Kingdom if Scotland were to ever become independent!  Well worth a listen.

I’m sorry you feel that way

by James Murphy

I had a brief chat with Ed, Troy and Paulina on Heart Radio through the week about apologies.  We talked about the idea that saying ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’ is not really an apology and how, if you are apologising, you need to take on responsibility for the bad thing you’ve done.  It was a nice warm up for the sorts of things Kate Beeching and I will be exploring in our colloquium ‘Just how sorry are you, mate?’ at the iMean 5 conference next week.

What do you think is important to do when apologising?  What features make a bad apology?

Now that’s what I call great use of linguistics …

by Richard Coates

It’s a moment to remember with gratitude the Chinese scholar Zhōu Yǒuguāng, who died on 14 January at the astonishing age of 111 years and 1 day – perhaps the oldest person ever who is famous for something in addition to being improbably old. He was originally a banker and agricultural policy economist, but had an interest in linguistics from his student days. He is the scholar behind the Hànyǔ Pīnyīn system, which is now universally used for writing Mandarin in roman characters (as exemplified in the names above). It took him three years, at the head of a small team. The original intention was to create a pronunciation guide for traditional Chinese characters, with a view to raising literacy standards in China, which was praiseworthy enough, but the project took off into something of far greater and more permanent significance. The Chinese government adopted Hànyǔ Pīnyīn (usually called just Pīnyīn (Pinyin) by foreigners) as its preferred romanization system in 1958, eight years before the contemptible and disastrous social experiment of the Cultural Revolution (1966-75), during which this distinguished man was marked out for “re-education” and spent two years in a labour camp. Since then, after his rehabilitation (i.e. return to normality) Pīnyīn was adopted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1982, and by the United Nations in 1986. Not content with this major success, in the 1980s, he was part of a team which translated Encyclopedia Britannica into Chinese (for newcomers to the world, that’s an early form of Wikipedia without the wiki element). Zhōu, a Marxist from his early adulthood, had worked abroad until the Communist revolution of 1949, at which point he returned to China. He continued to be a measured critic of Chinese government policy in his retirement, and a number of his books are currently banned in China.

Did you know, by the way, that another famous Chinese linguist, Zhào Yuánrèn (known in the West as Yuen Ren Chao), coined the word stir-fry in a book devoted to publishing his wife Yáng Bùwěi’s recipes? No? Well, you do now.

End of term party on Wednesday!

by Kate Beeching

Dear English/ Language and Linguistics students and staff,

A quick reminder that you are cordially invited to an END-OF-TERM party on Wednesday 7 December, 1pm., in 2S606.

Come and celebrate the end of term and view the 10 best video-clips collected as part of  the Bristol Soundscapes competition.

Prizes for the 3 best clips will be presented:

FIRST PRIZE: 2 tickets to the panto

SECOND PRIZE: 2 breakfasts at Carluccio’s

THIRD PRIZE: A Christmas Hamper (includes chocolate!)

Light refreshments will be provided – do feel free to bring something to share.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

All best wishes,

Kate Beeching.

Family Names Dictionary published

Huge congratulations to the Family Names team on the publication of The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, released today with Oxford University Press.

The work, explaining the origins of nearly 50,000 family names, is the result of many years of painstaking academic labour.

The work has received positive write-ups across the media, including the BBCThe GuardianDaily MailIndependentDaily MirrorEvening Standard, as well as too many local publications to mention. Prof. Richard Coates was also interviewed on the Today programme about the work (skip to 2.38.30).

The four volume (3,136 paged!) dictionary gives details on the origins, history and geographical distribution of family names in Britain and Ireland.  It uses previously untapped archives (some dating back to the 11th Century) to give the most comprehensive understanding of these names to date.

The team involved a certainly deserving of the praise coming their way.  More details on the project and the team can be found on the UWE website.

Bristol Soundscapes competition

Kate Beeching is launching the Bristol Soundscapes project, in which we aim to capture and celebrate the linguistic diversity of Bristol.  We are looking for you to collect short recordings of people using language in our city, with a view to producing an interactive map demonstrating the wide variety of languages and dialects used in the local area.

Kate will be hosting a training session next Monday

Bristol Soundscapes Training session, 11- 12 am on 31 October in Room 2S704:

Suitably seasonal spooky refreshments provided).  Here you can get more information about the project, and how we would like you to get involved.


  • GREAT PRIZES and a GALA PRESENTATION/END-OF-TERM party! Wednesday 7 December, 1pm in 2S606. The 10 best videos will be displayed. Light refreshments provided/bring something to share.
  • GREAT FUN: Meet new people, find out about the accents, languages and dialects actually spoken in the city
  • A WORTHY CAUSE: Interactive map display for Bristol; S-block exhibit