Institute for Research in Social Sciences

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Linguistics Research Group

Professor Raffi Folli
co-ordinates Modern Languages and Linguistics. The Linguistics Research Group is part of IRiSS, while Modern Languages is part of the Arts and Humanities Research Institute.

Linguistics at the University of Ulster spans a wide range of areas in the discipline. Particular strengths are in the areas of syntax, semantics, pragmatics, language acquisition, bilingualism, language processing, historical linguistics, discourse analysis, sociolinguistics and language planning. Members of the unit have several on-going collaborations with colleagues in various institutions and centres of excellence in linguistic research in the UK, Europe, Australia and US.

Students and staff of the Linguistics group work on a wide range of languages from all parts of the world. A particular focus of the group is on local language varieties including Belfast English, Irish English in general, Ulster Scots and Irish. This latter strand of research has recently lead to the development of the Northern Irish Dialects website, with the goal of spreading knowledge on the research of the fascinating syntactic properties and micro variation related to the many language varieties of Northern Ireland.

The linguistics group organises international conferences on a regular basis, for example the 2009 Syntax Conference on Language Change, the 2007 and 2010 conference On Linguistics Interfaces, and the 2011 International Conference of the Irish Network in Formal Linguistics.

The group also organises a series of Research Seminars in Language and Linguistics which takes place on Friday every fortnight. These are very informal meetings which give the opportunity to staff, students and guests to discuss their ongoing research. Among the many speakers that participated in the Research Seminars in the past, in 2009, the group had the honour of hosting Professor Noam Chomsky. Please find here the programme of this year's Research Seminars. Additionally the group hosts and takes part in regular meetings of linguists throughout Ireland, as part of the Irish Research Network in Formal Linguistics which was established thanks to funding by the AHRC and the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences.

The overarching objectives of research in Linguistics are to produce internationally excellent and world-leading research that offers new insights in language which are directly relevant both globally and to the immediate environment in which we exist. This includes core theoretical issues in linguistics, and their application to multilingualism, language variation and language status. This agenda has driven the group to establish UCoM, the Ulster Centre on Multilingualism which aims to educate and inform the public on the benefits and advantages of bringing up children to be multilingual. Multilingualism is also an important focus of research of the group. One of the recent PhD project on trilingualism has contributed all of its set of data to CHILDES.


Professor Raffaella Folli: Syntax, Lexical Semantics, Langauge Acquisition, Language Processings

Professor Heidi Harley
: Syntax, Morphology, Lexical Semantics, Endangered Languages

Dr Anthea Irwin : Sociolinguistics and discourse analysis

Dr Jacopo Romoli: Semantics, Pragmatics, Language Acquisition, Language Processing

Dr Philip McDermott: Language Policy and Planning, Ethnic Minorities and Language Recognition

Dr Christina Sevdali: Synchronic and Diachronic Syntax, Greek linguistics, syntax – Morphology interface and multilingualism

Dr Karyn Stapleton: Discourse Analysis, Pragmatics, Interpersonal Communication, Identity

Dr Catrin Rhys: Conversation Analysis, Membership Categorisation Analysis