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Jonathan Culpeper supervises 12 postgraduate research students. Some of the students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Professor Jonathan Culpeper


Jonathan Culpeper

County South

Lancaster University


Lancaster LA1 4YL

United Kingdom

Tel: +44 1524 592443

Location: C43

PhD supervision

Pragmatics (particularly involving sociopragmatics, politeness theory, speech act theory, corpus-based pragmatics) History of English (specifically Early Modern English) (particularly involving historical pragmatics, historical sociolinguistics, historical corpus linguistics) Stylistics (particularly involving the stylistics of drama, corpus stylistics)

Research Interests


Most of my current work belongs to the field of pragmatics. Within present-day pragmatics, I have a particular research interest in linguistic politeness, focusing on the social dynamics of interaction. My work has concentrated on the opposite of politeness: impoliteness. My article Towards an Anatomy of Impoliteness (1996, Journal of Pragmatics), outlining a framework for analyzing highly confrontational interaction, is my most cited publication to-date. I recently completed a three-year ESRC Fellowship,designed to push forward this research. My monograph, Impoliteness: Using Language to Cause Offence (2011, CUP),was the main output. Glimpses of my work can be seen in my impoliteness website.

One important strand of my research is centredon historical pragmatics, an area which seeks to apply the theories of pragmatics to historical texts and language change. I recently completed the monograph Early Modern English dialogues: Spoken interaction as writing (with Prof. Merja Kytö, Uppsala University ) (2010; CUP). This book investigates historical 'spoken' face-to-face interaction, as recorded in speech-related material (e.g. trial proceedings). It is based on a large corpus of historical dialogues which I developed with Prof. Merja Kytö (see details below). Topic areas include: pragmatic markers, interjections, lexical repetitions, certain grammatical aspects (e.g. the conjunction 'and'), and certain sociolinguistic areas (e.g. gender).

I have an active interest in historical (im)politeness. I recently collaborated with Daniel Kádár, and we co-edited Historical (Im)Politeness Research (2010; Peter Lang).

I am an editor-in-chief of the Journal of Pragmatics, a job I share with Neal Norrick.


My particular interest here has been cognitive stylistics, one of the most distinctive and most recent developments in stylistics, combining insights from linguistics and cognitive psychology. My research in this area has culminated in Language and Characterisation: People in Plays and other Texts (2001; Longman), a book which attempts to describe how readers understand characters in fictional texts. The main focus of this book on play-texts (particularly Shakespeare) reflects another research interest in stylistics: the language of drama. I have co-edited (with Mick Short and Peter Verdonk) a collection of papers on the language of drama, Studying Drama: From Text to Context (1998; Routledge), and(with Elena Semino) a collection, Cognitive Stylistics: Language and Cognition in Text Analysis (2002; John Benjamins), which was designed to define the field of cognitive stylistics. Most recently, I have returned to my Shakespearean interests and edited (with Mireille Ravassat) Stylistics and Shakespeare: Transdisciplinary Approaches (2011; Continuum). I am planning further work on Shakespeare, deploying the corpus-based methodology.

History of English

I have published numerous papers in the area of historical corpus linguistics, often with a historical pragmatics slant. Corpus Linguistics has had a dramatic impact on the nature of historical language studies in the 1990s. Many corpora of historical texts have been constructed, but these have focussed on literary or scholarly texts, which is a peculiar situation given the acknowledged importance of spoken interaction in language change. With grants from the British Academy and the AHRB, I collaborated with Prof. Merja Kytö in the construction of acorpus of speech-related Early Modern English texts.The Corpus of English Dialogues 1560-1760 stands at approximately 1.2 million words and contains the following text-types (drawn with reliable sources): trial proceedings, witness depositions, play-texts, dialogue in prose fiction, didactic dialogues (including language teaching textbooks).The corpus is available to the academic community for free (via the Oxford Text Archive or the ICAME disk). This corpus is the basis of the monograph on Early Modern English dialogues referred to above.

I have produced the second edition of my textbook History of English (2 nd edn., 2005; Routledge). The first edition was successful, so Routledge tells me. However, I am much happier with the second edition. Here I am deeply indebted to all those around the world who took the trouble to provide feedback on the first edition.


I maintain interests in a variety of other areas, especially areas relating to the study of the English Language. I recently led the team that produced the huge (718 paged!) textbook English Language: Description, Variation and Context (with P. Kerswill, R. Wodak, F. Katamba and T. McEnery) (2008; Palgrave). It contains 39 chapters, covering structural, sociolinguistic, functional, interactional, contextual, etc. aspects of the English language. A distinctive feature of the book is that all contributors and editors are (or in two cases were) based here in Lancaster.

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