Search type

Linguistics and English Language

Sign that says dont feed the pigeons


Research in Linguistics and English Language at The University of Manchester is characterized by an exceptional breadth of expertise.

We investigate all aspects of language structure (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics) and their interactions from a wide variety of perspectives (formal, typological, historical, developmental, societal, and cultural).

Our work breaks down traditional boundaries in a number of ways: for example, by pursuing syntheses of synchronic and diachronic explanation; by driving theory development through the use of data from under-described languages and non-standard varieties; by testing formal models against quantitative data from sociolinguistic variation and laboratory experimentation; and by bridging the division between linguistic and cultural studies, with particular reference to the creation of identity.

The empirical base of our research is outstandingly broad, not only methodologically, but also typologically. Thus, alongside an exceptionally large cluster of experts on English language, we have particular strengths in Romance, Germanic, Indo-Iranian, the languages of Latin America, and the languages of Australia.

Authoritative research into the history and linguistics of English

English Language authoritative research

The University of Manchester produces some of the most authoritative research into the history and linguistics of English. Manchester scholars are authors, editors, or contributors of many of the latest key reference works and textbooks on the English language. Particularly important examples include:

Manchester regularly hosts major international conferences on English linguistics:

  • Directions in English Language Studies (April 2006)
  • The Tenth International Conference on English Historical Linguistics (August 1998): click on the highlighted link for a description of the conference volume.

Research areas

Manchester scholars conduct research into all aspects of the English language, from its structure, history, varieties, and sociohistorical setting, to the applications of English linguistics. For the research interests of individual members of our academic staff, see the staff list.

Manchester has a particularly outstanding reputation in English historical linguistics: some of our major publications in this field were listed above. More generally, our descriptive goals, both diachronic and synchronic, are served by a variety of empirical techniques, including philology, corpus linguistics, and quantitative sociolinguistic methods. At the same time, our work on English is informed by, and aims to contribute to, the latest developments in linguistic theory. In this vein, Manchester scholars apply a variety of theoretical perspectives to the synchronic and diachronic study of English, including construction grammar, lexical-functional grammar, minimalism, and optimality theory. Our research also uses the techniques of linguistic typology to define the place of English within the diversity of human language.

For an example of how our work on English unites descriptive, historical, and theoretical concerns, you can visit the website of one of the major externally-funded research projects in our subject area: Germanic possessive -s: an empirical, historical and theoretical study.

Languages research

Research in Linguistics and English Language in carried out in the context of three linked Divisions within the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures devoted to research in languages and linguistics. 

Beyond the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, we also work with colleagues in the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health and the School of Social Sciences.

Notably, our Division is one of the partners in the new Manchester Q-step Centre, which aims to promote training in quantitative research skills.