Language and Communication Studies

A dynamic collaboration between researchers in the field of Language and Communication Studies and a variety of other areas such as Archaeology, Film Production, History and International Relations is leading new developments in Area Studies.

We are home to the New Area Studies Centre and have consistently been ranked in the top 5 of British universities for REF for Area Studies.

We focus on deepening understanding of human cultures and communities, including their linguistic, historical, and literary transformations, through our ground-breaking, interdisciplinary research, which crosses the border between Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences. 

Current research projects led by our staff

Communication and wellbeing for migrant professional footballers in England

An investigation into how communication and adaptation support for male and female professional footballers, who have limited or no English language skills, affects wellbeing when these employees migrate to England to work for professional football clubs. 

Looking For Koltès – Translation, rhythm, and decolonisation

Multidisciplinary (philosophy, translation studies, and performance studies) project. Uses translation as the lens to explore aspects of decolonisation via rhythm, how Koltès uses rhythm in colonial language as a means to distort, disrupt, and interrupt syntax to convey the struggle of characters, within the limits of this language, in an emancipatory way. (with Dr Fred Dalmasso, University of Loughborough)

Eye tracking research on subtitle reading 

Experimental research using eye tracking to better understand how audiences view and process subtitled films, TV programmes and other videos. Dr Black collaborates with international experts in the field of audiovisual translation and uses cutting edge eye tracking technology (Eyelink Portable Duo, SR Research) to investigate the impact of different characteristics of video and subtitling, such as subtitle speed and speaker identification techniques, on viewers’ processing of subtitled videos. Dr Black is currently working on a Leverhulme funded project on understanding how deaf and hard of hearing children use subtitles to access videos, which aims to provide academic and media industry experts with timely, novel, and rigorous evidence to inform research, policy, and practice. 

Linguistic pragmatics

This project focuses on how speakers negotiate meanings in interaction. Chi-He is particularly interested in misunderstandings, and what they can reveal about the relationship between speakers’ intentions, accountability, and deniability. Her current project, Jokes Gone Wrong, examines how people handle offensive humour in online interaction.

Gypsy and Traveller Voices in Music Archives in the UK (2022-2025)

This project will create opportunities for Gypsy/Romani/Traveller (GRT) communities to tell their own stories about their music and history in the UK. It promotes knowledge exchange between GRT communities, national music archivists and librarians, and diverse publics. It will do this through the co-creation of an innovative digital resource which will enable new audiences to access, experience and understand material thus far only partially catalogued.

It will allow GRT communities to take greater control over the representation of their history, music and identity. The project is in collaboration with the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML) of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS), and Dr. Esbjörn Wettermark (University of Sheffield). (Principal Investigator: Hazel Marsh)

Strengthening Roma Voices in Colombia (2022-2025)

This project focuses on strengthening the capacities of Roma groups in Colombia, and the organization that supports them, to represent their knowledge, needs and priorities to government and non-government institutions. This process will generate new opportunities for Roma to self-represent and advocate for their interests, in their own voices, and moving beyond the prevalent stereotypes that define Roma identity for outsiders.

The project is in collaboration with the Proceso Organizativo del Pueblo Rom de Colombia (Organisational Process of the Roma People of Colombia, PRORROM), and Dr. Esteban Acuña (SUNY). (Principal Investigator: Hazel Marsh)

Historical Pragmatics and Politeness Research

This project looks to explore how approaches and frameworks from Politeness Research can be applied to the linguacultures of the ancient world. Kim established and manages the Historical Politeness Network. 

Okinawan Arts in its Regional Context: Historical Overview and Contemporary Practice

The aim is to re-evaluate the significance of mutual influences among the islands of the Okinawan chain in regional, transregional, and transnational contexts. The research explores the socio-cultural complexities of Okinawan identity over the course of history, and the intersection between art, politics, and identity from an interdisciplinary perspective. Its ensuing studies is to shed light on how Okinawan arts and cultures have been shaped by internal political situations and by a triple subjugation to the United States, Japan, and China.

Decentering "Japanese Art History": Rethinking Periodization, Geography, and Historiography

This research challenges existing geographic and temporal paradigms in order to decenter Japanese Art History. It brings together papers considering different moments from across the Japanese archipelago to discuss how decentering of the field can address marginalized artworks, identities, and cultural issues in order to rethink the history of art and artists at local and nation-state levels.

Translation studies

Philip Wilson is currently preparing for publication an edition and translation of the poetry and selected prose of Simone Weil, Mirror of Obedience (with Silvia Caprioglio Panizza) for Bloomsbury, and is writing a monograph Translation and Mysticism for Routledge.

He is also working on an entry for the Bloomsbury Handbook of Simone Weil and a chapter on Weil for an edited collection (both with Silvia Caprioglio Panizza). His next project is a monograph on the novel as a research tool in New Area Studies (with Susan Hodgett).

Philip co-organises the Research Network in Translation and Philosophy (with Alice Leal, Wits University, South Africa).

Beyond relations of power: future directions in language and identity research

We teach languages in a context where our students’ national, religious, ethnic and gender identities are diverse. This project explores the place of subjectivity, i.e. the individual’s expression of self and the author’s voice, as a means to demonstrate learners’ agency in writing. In the first instance, the project offers a few vignettes which illustrate wide-ranging conceptions of learner agency including its quasi-erasure in contemporary models of language and identity research.

The project attempts to define some of the characteristics of self-expression in the second language context, e.g. narrative reports of speech acts, polyphonic and ironical utterances. The project illustrates these characteristics with examples from the writing of seven international undergraduate students, showing how they negotiate their expression of self and authorial presence in the context of a new academic community in a British university, adopting discourse practices that illustrate their expression of self.

It proposes that, since self-expression is a crucial part of any writing, it is helpful for teachers and learners’ attention to be drawn to it. By providing a personal dimension to decisions about how to write in a second language, It shows how learners can resist subject positioning and the relations of power which constrain their agency.



Currently, our research students are working on the following topics for their PhDs.

  • Abdul Aziz Al Dammad - The significance of Technology in the Training of Translators        
  • Mona Aldafas - A Sociolinguistic Investigation of Compliments and Compliment Responses among Young Saudis   
  • Eman Alharbi                                                                               
  • Noah Alsager - Interpretation Assessment of Selected Arabic interpretations of Political Speeches            
  • Li Li - Language Quality and Maternity: How to Ensure Effective Communication in Maternity Settings Where Healthcare Providers and Users Do Not Share the Same Language                                                                                        
  • Masooda (Sadaf) Mirza - Analysing proverbs on women and their influences in English and Pakistani societies: A comparative analysis
  • Hao Mo - Framing Conflict through English-Chinese News Translation: A Case Study of the 2019 Hong Kong Protests    
  • Ami Montgomery - The Voice of Cultural Pluralism; An ethnographic narrative of intercultural communication in a primary setting             
  • Irina Neustroeva
  • Esther Vicente Manzanedo - Language Aptitude in Multilingual Children with Different Linguistic Backgrounds