School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Staff Profile

Professor Karen Corrigan

Director of Research in Linguistics



BA: Joint Honours in Old and Middle English (NUI: University College, Dublin);

PhD in English Language: “The Syntax of South Armagh English in its Socio-Historical Perspective” (NUI: University College, Dublin).


Esteem Indicators:

(a)            Editorial Roles:

•             Series Editor for the ‘Dialects of English' series, published by Edinburgh University Press, 2010-2011 and published by Mouton de Gruyter, 2011-present.

•             Member of the Advisory Board for the ‘Dialects of English' series, published by Edinburgh University Press, 2003-2010.

(b)            Invitations to Assess, Consult, Examine and Review:

•            JOURNALS: Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory; English Language & Linguistics; English World-Wide; Folia Linguistica; International Journal of Bilingualism; International Journal of Corpus Linguistics; Journal of Sociolinguistics; Literary and Linguistic Computing; Topics in Language Disorders; Transactions of the Philological Society; Language Variation and Change.

•            PUBLISHERS: Blackwell; Cambridge University Press; Edinburgh University Press; Palgrave-Macmillan.

•            RESEARCH COUNCILS/TRUSTS: AHRB/C; Austrian Science Fund; British Academy; Carnegie Trust; Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences; ESRC; Leverhulme Trust; Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research; Royal Society of Edinburgh; Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

•            ASSOCIATIONS: British Association of Applied Linguistics, Yearly Book Prize, 2000.

•            INSTITUTIONS: External assessor for MA in Linguistics proposal, Queen Mary, University of London (March 2011); External assessor on Senior Lecturer appointment committee, University College Dublin (July 2007); External assessor for promotion application to full chair at University of Toronto (December 2006); External Examiner of undergraduate programmes, Queen Mary, University of London (2002-2005); External Examiner of undergraduate programmes, University of Sheffield (2003-2006); External Examiner of postgraduate programmes, University of Essex (2009-2011); External examiner of research degrees, University of Leeds, 2011 & 2012, University of Toronto, 2011, Queen Mary, University of London, 2007, Leiden University, 2003, Trinity College, Dublin, 2002, University of York, 2001; Consultant to Dr Matthew Patrick, Developmental Psychopathology Research Unit, Adult Department, The Tavistock Clinic and University College, University of London (1995-1996).

(c)            Professional Service

•             LAGB Nominee on the AHRC’s Peer Review College, 2011-present.

•             Member of the Humanities Institute of Ireland Advisory Board, 2010-2013.

•             AHRC Nominee on the Steering Committee for the Phase 2 AHRC Research Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies, based at the University of Aberdeen and involving staff at Aberdeen, Queen’s University, Belfast and Trinity College, Dublin, 2006-2010.




Research Interests

Celtic Englishes, Corpus Linguistics, Dialectology, Discourse Analysis, History of English, Sociolinguistics and
the Sociology of Language.

(1) The investigation of Irish-English from a socio-historical contact-linguistic perspective.

The main strands of this research are:

(a) The residual effects on the syntax of a contemporary English dialect of historical contact between speakers of languages (vernacular Ulster Irish and Northern dialects of Early Modern English/Older Scots) which exhibit cross-linguistic differences;

(b) Measuring and defining community bilingualism in historical contact settings and exploring the social factors (particularly those pertaining to demography) believed to be significant for non-pathological language attrition in the Celtic nations and elsewhere;

(c) Tracing the social trajectories of syntactic variation in non-standard dialects and postulating the various mechanisms by which linguistic change and dialect convergence/divergence may be transmitted (particularly by female speakers);

(d) Exploring the importance of socially-situated language samples for refining and assessing theoretical models of language and evaluating the benefits to a variationist approach that accounts for linguistic change as being socially-motivated but constrained in some of its aspects by the operation of the language faculty;

(e) Determining the efficacy of 'real' time versus 'apparent' time methodologies in sociolinguistic investigations.

These interests have recently culminated in an AHRC-funded project entitled The Empire Speaks Back which resulted in a 2010 monograph and accompanying website:

(2) My other major research interest is in the analysis of written and spoken corpora of various kinds.

My expertise in this area was initially stimulated by the unique nature of the historical database which I collected and analysed in my doctoral dissertation on South Armagh English:

(a) I have also been a principal investigator on two externally-funded projects which analysed a spoken corpus of L2 child data: "Working With Bilingual Children" and a written corpus produced by native-speaking adult psychiatric patients: "An Analysis of the Written Discourse in the Questionnaire Responses of Personality Disordered Patients".

(b) I have acted as principal investigator on two AHRC-funded projects that aimed to create and analyse an electronic 'megacorpus' of North Eastern English for different audiences. "The Newcastle Electronic Corpus of English (NECTE)" (2001-2005): and "The Diachronic Electronic Corpus of Tyneside English (DECTE)" (2010-2012): were designed primarily for academics in the arts and humanities and social sciences. The most recent corpus building project aimed: (i) to ensure that NECTE was updated so that it has the greatest chance of longer-term preservation/sustainability; (ii) to add new interview data to NECTE from other areas of the North East and from speakers with different socio-demographic characteristics; (iii) to expand the accessibility/impact of the corpus so that new audiences could engage with it. This has resulted in the ‘Talk of the Toon’ website: aimed at local community groups. including primary and secondary school teachers and their students.

(3) Syntax and Variation: Reconciling the Biological and the Social:

I have also undertaken a funded study (BC/NWO) with Leonie Cornips of the Meertens Institute, Amsterdam. This was a comparative and inter-disciplinary research project based on grammatical data drawn from distinctive regional language varieties in the Netherlands and Northern Ireland (Heerlen Dutch and South Armagh English, respectively). It resulted in two 2005 article-length publications and our collaboration also involved a book-length work (also published in 2005) addressing issues of syntax and variation from the perspectives of various sub-disciplines of linguistics: I continue to be involved in research on dialect syntax via the Edisyn network: and I have just completed a series of pilot projects in this area involving other colleagues at Newcastle and Edinburgh Univerisities as well as University College, Dublin.

(4) Languages:

I have additional interests in Modern (particularly, Ulster) Irish, Old English, Middle English and Early Modern English languages and texts. I have also done research on L2 English where the L1 was a member of the Indo-Aryan language family.

Postgraduate Supervision

I am interested in supervising research in the following areas: Celtic Englishes/Discourse Analysis/Historical (English) Linguistics/Tyneside English/Sociolinguistics/Sociology of Language. Suggestions for Inter-disciplinary projects are also welcome.