School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Staff Profile

Alison Aspin

Postgraduate Research Student


I am a linguistics PhD student whose research is funded by Northern Bridge.

Academic Background

MA in Linguistics (Newcastle University, 2015; awarded the Taught MA Prize for Linguistics)

BA(Hons) in Modern Languages and European Studies (University of Bath, 1991)




Research Project

Supervisors: Dr William van der Wurff and Dr Adam Mearns

Words that stay and words that go: factors affecting word survival and obsolescence in English

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.

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, profanity, euphemism and the effect on language of changing views regarding offensiveness.

Research Groups

Language and Cognition Reading Group


2017: Durham Castle Conference (Durham University). 'Evolution of the English lexicon: survival of the fittest?' (oral presentation)

2017: HaSS Conference (Newcastle University). 'Language as chimera: how English got its odd body parts' (oral presentation)

2017: 12th Newcastle upon Tyne Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics (Newcastle University). 'Disappearing words: factors affecting word obsolescence in English' (oral presentation)



SEL1012 ('Language Through Time: Introduction to the History of English'): seminar tutor

SEL1027 ('Shaping Sounds and Syntax'): seminar tutor


SEL2223 (‘Speakers as Wordsmiths’): invited lecturer