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Summary: The politics of language, specifically the way in which language constructs, and is constructed by, forms of social power; the interrelations between language and history in Britain and Ireland.
My research interests lie broadly in the area of the politics of language, understood in general terms as the way in which language constructs, and is constructed by, forms of social power. Thus in my published work I have focussed on several distinct but related fields. These include: the idea of Standard English and the uses to which it has been, and is, put socially (The Politics of Discourse: The Standard Language Question in British Cultural Debates); the interrelations between language and history in Britain and Ireland (Language in History: Theories and Texts); the complex history of language in colonial and post-colonial Ireland (Wars of Words: The Politics of Language in Ireland 1537-2004); and the invention and deployment of Scouse as a cultural and linguistic category (Scouse: A Cultural and Social History). My current research is two-fold: the compilation of a glossary of language in Liverpool (1850-2010), and an investigation of the social and educational effects of the stigmatisation of a form of language on its users.
Apart from these main interests, I also have a number of other projects: the literature of Liverpool (particularly the Liverpool novel from the mid nineteenth century); the use of non-standard language in literature (principally modern and contemporary); the murals of Northern Ireland. This last project involves the compilation of an on-line archive of my photographic record of the murals that have appeared in Northern Ireland in the period 1979-the present. The construction of the archive is on-going, but currently features more than three thousand images with full historical notation and contextualisation (available at http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/mni).