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Centre for Language and Communication Research

Researching the form, function and effect of human communication and language.

The  Centre for Language and Communication Research (CLCR) has a strong tradition of building theoretical knowledge and applying it to authentic contexts.

In our research, we favour ‘real world’ challenges and concerns, working collaboratively with beneficiaries to match research to its potential applications. Research beneficiaries have included the legal profession, healthcare, and ethnic minority and socially disadvantaged communities. As such, much of our research leads to significant impact on society.

Research Excellence Framework

In the latest exercise, our school was placed in the top 5 for research impact and power and top 4 for impact on wider communities (REF 2021).

In the past five years, we have been involved in the successful application of grants totalling £1,300,000 for research projects we have either led or have been partners in.


Language and Linguistics

Corpus Linguistics

We have a wide variety of corpus-related interests. These include:

  • corpus creation and collection
  • corpus-informed discourse analysis and critical discourse analysis
  • corpus annotation and tagging
  • multimodal corpus-based research

We also make use of corpora to explore:

  • the relationship between language, discourse and culture
  • professional, workplace and public communication
  • metaphor
  • lexicology, patterns in lexicogrammar
  • the interface between Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) and corpus linguistics

Formulaic Language

We study the way people achieve things in communication using common units of language above the word level, including:

  • idioms and proverbs
  • common turns of phrase
  • multiword terms
  • repetitive language in dementia
  • how these expressions change over time and reflect social change
  • similarities and differences across languages
  • the role of formulaic language in second language proficiency
  • formulaic language in professional communication

Intonation and Information Structure

We study a range of areas relating to speech function, including:

  • the tone system as an interpersonal resource
  • the use of pitch accents to signal unexpected transitions in discourse
  • the use of pitch accents to signal focus
  • the study of how prosody, rhythm, word order, reference and semantics push the message forward

Language Acquisition (First and Second)

We study first and second language acquisition, looking at aspects such as phonological, grammatical, pragmatic, semantic and lexical development, and the implications for learning and teaching. These include research in:

  • infants’ phonological development from pre-birth to late infancy
  • social and psychological factors affecting language development in children
  • children’s acquisition of standard and non-standard language
  • sociolinguistic competence of English as a lingua franca speakers
  • developmental language disorders
  • second (or additional) Language learning and teaching

Language Description

We describe the grammar, lexis, phonology and semantics of language from a variety of perspectives, including:

  • functional categories
  • diachronic change and synchronic usage and variation
  • grammaticalisation
  • nouns and nominalisation
  • lexical semantics
  • grammatical theory
  • language typology
  • information structure
  • nominality and directness of meaning

Language Variation and Change, and Historical Linguistics

We study how current language variation is intrinsically linked to the analysis of language change and its relation to time, and how the findings from one area inform those of the other. Our language and time related interests include:

  • change at linguistic levels (lexical, morphosyntactic, phonological, discourse)
  • interaction between internal and external factors in language change
  • language contact and shift
  • historical sociolinguistics
  • historical stylistics
  • attitudes and use
  • change in formulaic language

Lexical Studies

We study the form and function of words and their relationship to grammar, for instance:

  • lexico-grammatical patterns
  • change in vocabulary over time as a result of language contact
  • how we learn words in a first or second language
  • how a word’s meaning is influenced by its relationships with other words
  • functional lexical analysis
  • corpus pattern analysis

Linguistic Ethnography

We use ethnographic methods to investigate communicative practices in a range of social contexts. These include:

  • medical and healthcare contexts such as nursing, and organ donation
  • public contexts such as shops, libraries and sports training
  • social media contexts such as online games, Facebook, YouTube communities
  • legal contexts such as police stations and legal advice
  • community organisation and resource management


We study both verbal and visual/multimodal forms of metaphor, including in the following areas:

  • workplace communication
  • healthcare communication
  • conflict and discourse
  • political cartoons
  • drawings, comics, graphic novels, and graphic narratives
  • media discourse


The research in Cardiff focuses on variationist and interactional sociolinguistics, looking at how language is affected by, and affects, society and culture.

This includes research in:

  • typography and spelling variation in the media
  • superdiversity and translanguaging
  • multilingualism
  • accents and dialects
  • language attitudes and ideologies
  • language and gender
  • institutional identities and communities

Systemic Functional Linguistics, Systemic Functional Grammar

We view grammar and lexis as resources for making social meanings as discourse. We explore the following dimensions of Systemic Functional Linguistics:

  • grammatical theory
  • grammatical descriptions of English and other languages and registerial/dialectal variation
  • lexicogrammar
  • information structure and textuality
  • transitivity and ergativity
  • genre, register and context
  • text analysis
  • attitude, evaluation and stance
  • intertextuality
  • social actor theory

And we use the theory and description in the following areas:

  • crosslinguistic typology
  • corpus linguistics
  • education
  • communication disorders
  • stylistics
  • critical discourse analysis (CDA)
  • professional practice
  • legitimation and voice


Applied Linguistics, Language Education, English for Specific Purposes

We focus on a range of topics related to learning, teaching and using language, including:

  • teaching professional communication
  • English as a lingua franca in professional contexts
  • second language learning and teaching
  • writing processes
  • teaching English for specific purposes
  • approaches to learning and teaching grammar, vocabulary and discourse

Discourse Analysis, Critical Discourse Analysis, Corpus-Informed Discourse Analysis

We focus on developing tools, theories and methodological frameworks for discourse analysis, with a focus on areas such as:

  • defining and analysing context
  • communication in the workplace
  • multi-modal discourse analysis
  • conversation analysis
  • language and gesture-in-use in natural settings
  • multimodal corpus-based research
  • text and social contexts
  • digital discourse analysis
  • discourse and identity
  • representations and ideologies

Forensic linguistics / Language and Law

We draw on a range of theories, methodologies and approaches to examine language and communication about the law in a range of legal and paralegal contexts. We also contribute applied findings of our research to practitioners across a range of organisations. We work throughout the legal system in the following areas:

  • explanation of law in contexts such as police detention
  • witness statements and interview practices
  • police complaint handling and call taking
  • communication with vulnerable populations including children and those with a communication disorder
  • representation and identity construction in the language of the law
  • phraseology and jurisprudence
  • prison language and restorative justice
  • linguistic evidence and expertise including: authorship attribution, trademark analysis, and warning labels
  • interpreters and language advocates
  • narrative in the legal process
  • persuasion in the legal process
  • discursive ethics and the legal process
  • jury instruction and ideology

Healthcare Communication, Communication Disorders, Dementia and Communication, Lifespan Communication

We study the particular uses of language in the healthcare context, spanning health communication and lifespan communication. This can include acquired communication difficulties and how language changes as we age, as well as topics such as:

  • visual metaphor in public health campaigns
  • metaphor in end-of-life care
  • illness as a metaphor
  • health communication in hospitals
  • alzheimer's and dementia
  • communicating with people with dementia
  • health professionals' communication
  • communication disorders arising from congenital and acquired disabilities
  • representations of ageing
  • graphic medicine
  • differences between the language patterns between younger and older people
  • media representations of illness, ageing and the lifespan

Intercultural Communication

We are interested in critically exploring conceptions of and approaches to culture and intercultural communication in a variety of contexts and with a range of methodologies. Our research explores the following areas, amongst others:

  • intercultural communication in the workplace
  • conceptions of ‘culture’ in institutional contexts
  • critiquing essentialism, stereotypes and ethnocentrism
  • using corpus linguistics in intercultural and cultural analysis
  • intercultural communication and voice
  • intercultural communication and discursive ethics
  • the use of multimodal communicative resources in intercultural encounter

(New) Media, Comics/Graphic Novels

We have a wide range of interests in these areas, including identity, performance and ideologies, and explore how our findings can be applied beyond academia, including:

  • identity construction and negotiation
  • communities of practice on social media
  • creativity, change, and typography in new media language
  • internet research ethics
  • representations, ideologies, and the media
  • autobiographical storytelling through comics
  • graphic medicine
  • attitudes and language performance on twitter

Professional Discourse and Workplace Communication

We analyse interactions in professional and workplace contexts, for example broadcast talk, courtroom interactions and business meetings. Many of us take an ‘applied’ approach, exploring how our findings can feed back to those in the workplace to improve practices. Our work includes spoken, written, multimodal and online professional discourse and communication, including:

  • legal professional communication
  • legal-lay communication
  • forensic discourse
  • political discourse in the media
  • media professionals, discourse and broadcast talk
  • news media discourse and communication
  • Iiteractions between health professionals and patients-professionals
  • multilingual health environments
  • intercultural communication in workplaces
  • the language of business meetings
  • explanation in workplace contexts
  • literacies in workplaces
  • communication in engineering contexts

Visual and Multimodal Communication, Non-verbal Communication

We focus on developing tools, theories and methodological frameworks for visual and multimodal analysis with a particular focus on the following areas:

  • linguistic landscapes
  • advertising images
  • visual/multimodal metaphor and irony
  • non-verbal communication in the workplace
  • translanguaging and communicative resources
  • multimodal corpus-based research
  • language and gesture in natural contexts


The CLCR Events Series comprises a wide range of academic and academically related gatherings. One of our main activities is Networking Roundtables which provide for group discussion of interests and possible future projects around a common theme. Examples of our other events include “minilloquia”, mini-colloquia, and “sliminars”, small seminars, formats which allow several speakers to present their research or thinking to a wide audience. We also, occasionally, host more conventional research seminar-type events in which invited audience members from across the University enrich discussions.

Find out more about this year's programme

Past events

CLCR Celebration Event: 25th May 2023.  A celebration of the past, present and future directions of Cardiff's Centre for Language and Communication Research.

Find out more about our past events

Next steps


Research that matters

Our research makes a difference to people’s lives as we work across disciplines to tackle major challenges facing society, the economy and our environment.


Postgraduate research

Our research degrees give the opportunity to investigate a specific topic in depth among field-leading researchers.


Our research impact

Our research case studies highlight some of the areas where we deliver positive research impact.