Here is information on our first Linguistics Research Seminar of the new academic year.

Our speakers are Billy Clark and Tony Williams, both from Northumbria. Billy and Tony have been discussing how pragmatic theories can be developed by looking at the work of creative writers (including how they talk about their work) and at how ideas from pragmatics might help writers to understand and develop their practice.

There is more information below. All welcome!

The first Northumbria Language and Linguistics Research Seminar Series of this academic year will take place on Wednesday 12th October at 12 noon to 1pm in Lipman 121. on our City Campus.

Billy Clark and Tony Williams (both from Northumbria University) will be presenting on: 

Pragmatics, writing and (really) listening (abstract below) 

All welcome! 

You can find directions to the campus and a campus map here:

This is a hybrid event so you can also join online. Please email billy for the link to join online:

. . .

Pragmatics, writing and (really) listening 


This talk considers how recent ideas from relevance theory (Sperber and Wilson 1995) can be applied in two areas: in understanding the practice of creative writers and in understanding what is involved in being perceived by other people as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ listener.

      We suggest that considering the practice of writers can help to develop pragmatic theory and also that ideas from relevance theory can help account for different kinds of creative practice (and discussion of practice). At first glance, writing practice can be seen as more or less ‘intuitive’ or, conversely, as more or less ‘reflective’. However, recent ideas on reasoning (Mercier and Sperber 2017) suggest that much of the more reflective practice is in fact more intuitive than previously assumed.

      The talk also considers how relevance-theoretic ideas might interact with work by Levinson and others on turn-taking which emphasises the time pressures involved in real-time interaction. This in turn highlights some of the difficulties in being a ‘good’ communicator and listener. We suggest that ideas from relevance theory about the nature and complexity of communication can be applied in developing communicative practice in a wide range of contexts, including what contributes to perceptions of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ listening.


Corps, Ruth E. 2022. Conversation is not like a game of ping-pong. MPI TalkLing. Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics.

Corps, R. E., Chiara Gambi and Martin J. Pickering. 2018. Coordinating utterances during turn-taking: the role of prediction, response preparation, and articulation. Discourse Processes 55: 230-240.

Corps, R. E., Birgit  Knudsen and Antje S. Meyer. 2022. Overrated gaps: inter-speaker gaps provide limited information about the timing of turns in conversation. Cognition 223.

Levinson, Stephen C. 2016. Turn-taking in human communication – origins and implications for language processing. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20, 6-14.

Levinson, Stephen C. and Francisco Torreira. 2015. Timing in turn-taking and its implications for processing models of language. Frontiers in Psychology 6.

Park, Kyu Hyun. In progress. Pragmatics and speech production. PhD thesis, Northumbria University.

Park, Kyu Hyun and Billy Clark. 2022. A relevance-focused production heuristic. In Tim Wharton, Caroline and Jagoe (eds.) Relevance Theory: New Horizons, Special issue of Journal of Pragmatics 187: 176-185.

Sperber, D. and D. Wilson. 1986/1995. Relevance: Communication and Cognition. Wiley- Blackwell.

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