Skip to main content

Alison Aspin

Research project title

Words That Stay and Words That Go: Factors Affecting Word Survival and Obsolescence in English


Dr William van der Wurff and Dr Adam Mearns

Contact details


Research interests

  • language change and the history of English
  • psycholinguistics and the structure of the mental lexicon
  • the influence on language of ideas about prestige
  • ambiguity in speech
  • swearing and profanity, euphemism and offensiveness in language
Alison Aspin

A brief outline of the research project

While new words in English have received considerable scholarly attention, the longer-term survival or loss of words has been a neglected topic.  This project addresses that topic.  It aims to identify and assess, systematically, the factors influencing lexical loss/persistence, and to investigate the role played by psycholinguistic processes.  The project will contribute to the understanding of lexical change in English and – more widely – to forging a link between two currently separate fields of enquiry: historical lexical change, and the processing of words in the mind.

Academic background

  • MA in Linguistics, Newcastle University
  • BA (Hons) in Modern Languages and European Studies, University of Bath