I am a lexicographer, corpus linguist, and onomastician. For ten years (1990–2000) I was chief editor of current English Dictionaries at Oxford University Press. More recently, I have held research posts and taught linguistics and lexicology at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in Britain, America, and the Czech Republic. I am currently a visiting professor at two institutions: the Bristol Centre for Linguistics (University of the West of England, Bristol), and the Research Institute of Information and Language Processing (University of Wolverhampton). I am a frequent invited plenary speaker at international conferences on lexicography, corpus linguistics, figurative language, and related topics.
My main research interests are:
- Corpus analysis of collocations and clause semantics in English
- Figurative language
I have developed a procedure called Corpus Pattern Analysis (CPA), which is the foundation of The Pattern Dictionary of English Verbs (http://pdev.org.uk; work in progress). The basic principle is to explore the relationship between meanings and patterns of usage (words in context). Verb meanings are mapped onto phraseological patterns, rather than verbx in isolation. Associated with this is a theory of meaning in language called The Theory of Norms and Exploitations (TNE), the topic of a book published by MIT Press in January 2013. This work is the foundation of an AHRC-funded research project called DVC (Disambiguation of Verbs by Collocation), currently in work at the Research Institute of Information and Language Processing at the University of Wolverhampton.
I am writing a corpus-driven work on linguistic comparisons and similes, which (among other things) provides a new theory of the structure and funciton of figurative expressions.
Quite separately, with colleagues based at UWE, I am currently compiling an AHRC-funded database of all the family names in the UK (FaNUK), with information about their linguistic and social origins, history, and geographical distribution.