Research

I have a wide range of research interests. My working languages are French and English, and I have particular interests in language policy and planning, language and identity, and language learning as a tool for intercultural communication. I also speak rusty intermediate Japanese and have a particular love for Belgium as I previously studied and worked there.

My Masters thesis focused on attitudes towards multilingualism in the UK, more specifically how public opinion, tabloid press, and governmental policy have all contributed to a ‘monolingual mindset‘, where language learning is disregarded and demonised. This hostility towards languages other than English ranges from mockery of indigenous languages like Cornish and Welsh, to non-native speakers being physically attacked for speaking their mother tongue. This unfortunately paints a sad picture of the future of UK language policy, especially after Brexit when polyglots will be needed more than ever to facilitate diplomacy, and positive change can only be brought about by an overwhole of language policy and education in the UK.

Here’s some other examples of my research:

  • An analysis of the incredibly popular French film Intouchables (2011) and its transculturality; that is, does the development of a close relationship between a young black man from the Parisian banlieu and a wealthy, white, quadraplegic man result in the breaking down of cultural boundaries? Unfortunately, this was not the case, as the humour of the film was generated from cultural stereotypes and little was achieved in terms of presenting a vision of a less culturally segregated France, and some may go as far as to say it was simply another example of the ‘magical negro’ trope.
  • A comparison of the British National Party’s publications from their heyday in the mid-2000s to their fall from grace in the mid-2010s. Scholarship of the BNP faded away along with their membership, but they still exist as a party and produce policy documents and manifestos that are interesting glimpses into the remanants of a party that was so present in the UK. My research found that the BNP’s most recent publication – their 2016 London Mayoral Election manifesto – shows their ideology moving away from their traditional schtick of anti-semitism and towards islamophobia and identity politics of the ‘indigenous white Briton’. This aligns them with their ideological successors such as the English Defence League and Britain First and shows the transformation of the UK’s right-wing parties throughout the course of the 21st century.
  • A critical look of l’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and the concept of ‘the French-speaking world’ in the 21st century, using case studies from Québec, Morocco, and Vietnam. Here I looked at two broad prevailing views of Francophonie, one where the French language is an imperialist tool that is part of the legacy of French colonial expansion, the other where the French languages unites a diverse array of countries and provides economic and political stability for those countries. Issues with Francophonie remain unaddressed – my recommendation was that the OIF moves away from country or state membership and towards individual membership, as cultural and linguistic identities are becoming increasingly fluid and therefore it has become difficult to define an entire nation as francophone or not.
  • A review of the last 20 years of the Cornish language revival movement and its achievements and obstacles. Language revival or revitalisation movements have gathered momentum in recent years partially in a bid to save the languages absolute extinction but also as part of the backlash against globalisation. Cornish has a rich literary history and a distinct regional identity, both of which result in increased public support in the region, but there is concern that Cornish language revival is a manifestation of Cornish nationalism and separatism. In general, Cornish revivalists have achieved a lot in terms of corpus planning (producing dictionaries, defining a modern standard variety of the language), but face some serious opposition from central government and negative public opinion in the rest of the UK.

I have also produced smaller research essays on the sociolinguistics and phonetics of Lousiana French (also known as Cajun French), memory and nomenclature of the Holocaust (la Shoah) in France, and the legacy of Belgian colonialism in the Congo and Rwanda.

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