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Dr Tom Bartlett


Dr Tom Bartlett Position: Senior Lecturer Email:
Telephone: +44(0)29 208 76076
Extension: 76076
Location: John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cathays, Cardiff

Research Group

Centre for Language and Communication Research

Research Interests

Critical approaches to Discourse Analysis (with a particular interest in intercultural negotiation and participatory democracy); text and social context; Systemic Functional Linguistics; functional descriptions of Scottish Gaelic grammar.

Funding Obtained

Full funding (£6k) has been obtained from the journal Language Learning for a multi-institution Round Table on Communicative Dynamism to be held in September 2014.

Selected Publications

2013 (in press).  “I’ll Manage the Context”:  Context, Environment and the Potential for Institutional Change.  In Lise Fontaine, Tom Bartlett and Gerard O’Grady Eds Systemic Functional Linguistics: Exploring Choice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2013. Enhancing ‘English for Local Purposes’ in Development Discourse. In E.J. Erling and P. Seargeant (Eds) English and International Development. Bristol: Multilingual Matters. 

2012. Lay metalanguage on grammatical variation and neutrality in Wikipedia’s entry for Che Guevara.  Text and Talk 32(6).

2012.  Hybrid Voices and Collaborative Change:  Situating Positive Discourse Analysis. London and New York: Routledge.
2010.  Towards an Interventionist CDA.  In Caroline Coffin, Theresa Lillis and 
Kieran O’Halloran (Eds) Investigating Language in Action: Tools for Analysis.  Open University.

2008. Wheels within Wheels or Triangles within Triangles: Time and Context in Positioning Theory.  In  Fathali M. Moghaddam, Rom Harré and Naomi Lee (Eds) Global Conflict Resolution through Positioning Analysis.  New York:  Springer.

2006. Genre as Ideological Mediation. In Linguistics and the Human Sciences, Special Issue on Genre.

2005.  The Communities Strike Back:  Genres of the Third Space.  Journal of Language and Intercultural Development, Vol. 5, No 1. March 2005.

2005.  Amerindian Development in Guyana:  Legal Documents as Background to Discourse Practice.  Discourse and Society, Vol. 16, No 3.  May 2005.

2004.  Mapping Distinction.  In Lynne Young and Claire Harrison  (Eds).  Systemic Functional Linguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis:  Studies in Social Change, pp.68-84. London and New York: Continuum.

2001.  Use the Road: The Appropriacy of Appropriation.  Journal of Language and Intercultural Communication, Vol. 1, No 1.

NB: Please click on ‘Publications’ (above) for a complete list.




My research is centred on the relationship between contexts of discourse and the language used by different social and cultural groups, an approach which brings together ethnographic approaches to discourse analysis and detailed descriptions of grammatical features within a functional framework.

At the social end of the scale, I am particularly interested in the workings of participatory democracy.  My work focuses on negotiations between local populations and governmental and non-governmental organisations with the aim of developing strategies for more effective participation and collaboration.  Within this area I am working to integrate the theory and methods of Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) into broader currents in social and ethnographic linguistics.  This approach is developed in my recent monograph Hybrid Voices and Collaborative Change: Situating Positive Discourse Analysis (Routledge 2012), a case study of discourse between local Amerindian communities in Guyana, South America, and governmental and non-governmental bodies.

I am a founding editor of a new series with Equinox, Text and Social Context, which aims to publish work exploring the connections between context and language both theoretically and through case studies.

At the grammatical end of my research, I am working with my colleague Gerard O’Grady to extend the SFL description of information structure and text development both in scope and detail.  We are organising an international round table on information structure across languages for 2014 and we have obtained full funding of the event form the journal Language Learning.

I am also working on functional descriptions of Scottish Gaelic Grammar, including information structure but also covering the form and functions of “passive” and “existential” constructions.
I am one of the founders of the research network LinC, which has run two Summer Schools in Systemic Functional Linguistics (2010 and 2012)and  organises extracurricular seminars during the academic year.

Somewhere between the two poles of context and grammar I am researching linguistic representation and bias in Wikipedia and the constraints of the online encyclopedia as a context for producing ‘neutral’ discourse.

Postgraduate Students

At present I am supervising doctoral work on: (i) grammatical categories and conceptual transfer in Italian learners of English; (ii) the use of interpersonal talk in business transactions between a seamstress and her long-term customers; and (iii) intercultural differences in practices surrounding obituaries and other in memoriam texts. I have also supervised completed PhDs on: (i) ellipsis and context in Systemic Functional Grammar (SFL); and (ii) reading strategies and development amongst Chinese students in Cardiff University with respect to sociocultural and educational background. 

I am interested in supervising doctoral work within the fields of discourse analysis and Systemic Functional Linguistics, and in particular work that relates fine-grained analysis of text to the broader social context and draws on a range of functional and social approaches to language studies.  An area of research that I am currently seeking to establish is on consultative discourse between government/NGO and local organisations.   


I have been at Cardiff since 2007 and specialise in teaching and researching discourse analysis and functional grammar. I am Course Director of the MA programme in Applied Linguistics and the Deputy Director of Studies with responsibility for Postgraduate and First Year Undergraduate affairs.  I have worked variously as an English language teacher in Scotland, Spain, Costa Rica and the US; a freelance lexicographer in the UK; a consultant on Mayan language/Spanish dictionaries in Mexico; an advisor to the Media Monitoring Unit in Guyana; a translator for the UNHCR in Costa Rica; and as a lecturer and head of department in a small university in the US. I carried out my doctoral fieldwork in Guyana, where I was looking at discourse between local Amerindian communities and governmental and international bodies.  My research brought together Systemic Functional Linguistics, discourse analysis, and social and ethnographic approaches to language study, all of which are well represented in the Centre for Language and Communication Research.