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Professor Tony McEnery

Distinguished Professor

Tony McEnery

Lancaster University

County South



Tel: +44 1524 510851

Research overview

I am a member of the corpus research group, which was awarded a Queen's Anniversary Prize for its research in 2015. 

I undertake research using corpus linguistics in a range of areas across theoretical and applied linguistics. As well as undertaking 'blue skies' research, I have also done applied work with a range of partner organizations in the public sector (e.g. the Department of Culture Media and Sport, the Environment Agency and the Home Office) and the private sector (e.g. with British Telecom, IBM, Nokia and Research in Motion). I have worked on projects in a wide range of languages, including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish. I have also constructed many corpora including the CRATER, EMILLE and British National Corpus 2014 corpora. EMILLE remains the largest and most comprehensive collection of written and spoken corpus materials for South Asian languages.


Career Details

I am Distinguished Professor of English Language and Linguistics at Lancaster University. 

I was Interim Chief Executive, Economic and Social Science Research Council, from 2017 - 2018.

I was Chief Accounting Officer, Economic and Social Research Council, from 2017 - 2018.

I was Deputy Chair of Council, Economic and Social Research Council, from 2017 - 2018.

I was Director or Research, Economic and Social Research Council, from 2016-2018.

I was Director of the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science, from 2013-2016.

I was Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Lancaster University, from 2008-2014. 

I was Director of Research at the Arts and Humanities Research Council from 2005-2008.

I was Head of Department of the Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University, from 2000-2005.

Research Grants

I have received research funding to date of £10,307,274. This has been gained from a wide range of funders including the AHRB, ESRC, NERC, EPSRC, the Leverhulme Trust, the Newby Trust the European Union and Trinity College London. My current research grants are:

  • I am principal investigator of the Lancaster University funded project The Lancaster-Northern Arizona corpus.
  • I am principal investigator of the Trinity College London funded grant Trinity Lancaster Corpus.

Research Interests

I am interested principally in the application of corpus methods to a range of questions relating to language in linguistics and beyond. This included topics which touch upon the theoretical core of linguistics, such as theories of aspect, but I look more at issues in applied linguistics such as the representation of Muslims and Islam in the UK Press. I am interested in language as a socially situated phenomenon and have pursued social explanations of langauge use, most notably through my work looking at swearing in English. My commitment to exploring the interaction between langauge and society stretches beyond the here and now - much of my work in this area is rooted in historical exploration. Such explorations are being enabled by the production of large new corpora covering early modern to present day English. I am very happy to be actively involved in the production of such corpora, and other datasets relevant to my research, especially the BNC2014 and Trinity Learner Corpus which are current focusses of effort for me.

Current Teaching

Though I am currently devoting much of my time to research, I am still active in teaching. Each summer I teach on a summer school in corpus linguistics at Lancaster University. I also run a MOOC on the Futurelearn platform, through which I have introduced corpus linguistics to tens of thousands of people. In addition, I supervise postgraduate students at both Masters and PhD levels.

Professional Role

I am a Council member and chair of the Audit and Risk Management committee of the Academy of Social Sciences.

I was awarded a Changjiang Chair by the Chinese Ministry of Education in 2021. I was also made founding UK chair and lifetime fellow of the Global China Academy in 2021. I am a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (from 2013). In 2016 I was made a fellow of Trinity College London. My research centre was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2015. I am also a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce (from 2008). I was awarded the Odzmacsewie Universyteti Lodzkiego (Jubilee Medal) in Poland in 1999 for an outstanding contribution to the intellectual life of the University of Łódź


External Roles

I am a member of the Council of the Academy of Social Sciences

I am chair of the Audit Committee of the Academy of Social Sciences.

I was a member of the Council of the University of Chester (2014-2016).

I have held the following visiting positions:

  • 2023-    Consulting Professor, Shanghai International Studies University
  • 2023-    Visiting Professor, Zhejiang University of Media and Communications
  • 2015-2020     International Advisor, China Multilingual and Multimodal Corpora and Big Data Centre, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Beijing University of Foreign Studies
  • 2010-2012    Visiting Professor, University of Limerick
  • 2003             Visiting Professor, Beijing Foreign Studies University
  • 1999             Visiting Professor, Chemnitz University, Germany
  • 1997             Visiting Professor, Tohoku State University, Japan
  • 1991             Visiting Lecturer, Aberystwyth University
  • 1990             Visiting Lecturer, Liverpool University

Additional Information

I undertake research reviewing for a wide range of UK and non-UK funding agencies including the Irish Research Council, the Qatar National Research Foundation, the Shota-Rustaveli National Science Foundation of Georgia and UKRI. 

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