Chara Vlachaki

Chara Vlachaki

Research Student


Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research interests

My research interests fall under the umbrella of linguistic pragmatics, that is the study of utterance interpretation and meaning in context. I am not a traditional linguist. In my work I look into areas that are not considered linguistic... property, such as emotions, art and aesthetics. Artworks communicate something slippery that often words cannot fully express; they communicate something ineffable. And that to me, it's really exciting! 

In my work, I explore the concept of ineffability in verbal and non-verbal art and aesthetic experience. My framework is relevance theory, a theory of communication and cognition. I'm looking into how relevance theory can be applied to aesthetics and the interpretation of art and also what is the role of emotions in aesthetic appreciation. In my thesis, I also look into the influence of neuroaesthetics, ekphrastic poetry, and the ineffability of the Parthenon Sculptures. In a rather recent epiphany I had (it happens sometimes!), a few months before I started my final year, I designed a pilot study. I conducted ten semi-structured individual interviews during which participants were asked to perform an aesthetic judgement task, an affective task and a selection task. The stimuli for the tasks were images of paintings and sculptures and two haiku poems. Apart from the tasks, I included questions on aesthetic experience based on the participants' recent or past experiences with an artwork of their choice. I used relevance theory as an exploratory method of analysis to interpret and discuss the data. 

My work has been influenced by a recent affective turn in relevance-theoretic pragmatics and Tim Wharton's work on pragmatics and emotion. 

The working title of my doctoral thesis is Art, affect, and mind: Exploring the ineffable. 

Scholarly biography

Many many years ago, I studied Classics in Athens. I hold a BA in Classics from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Because of my love for books and English literature, I decided to study English. That love was soon overthrown by my passion for linguistics and this is how I got a second BA in English Language and Literature. This was followed by an MA in Linguistics: Theory and Applications from the same university. For the latter I was valedictorian, reciting the oath at the graduation ceremony. I moved to Brighton to pursue a PhD in Linguistics and my MA thesis titled 'Emotions and mental images in literature: How  Asperger's individuals and neurotypicals infer the ineffable' was written at a small loft in Hove (actually!) during the pandemic. 

In my free time, I travel to give talks about my work. Sometimes I present online, for example for the Relevance Researchers' Network. Last year (2023)  I went to Rome for the 1st Relevance theory conference in translation and interpretation. The paper I presented there will be published in a joined volume by Routledge. The same year I went to Athens for a Postgraduate workshop in Pragmatics. I was also invited to give a public talk to the Greek community in Edinburgh in December 2023. This year (2024) I visited Seville for EPICS XI as part of the Beyond meaning panel. Exciting stuff! 

Approach to teaching

I smile and laugh a lot and when I don't do that, I teach. Well, sometimes I do both at the same time. I've been a teacher all my adult life. I started as a secondary school teacher in Greece specialising in Greek Language and Literature, Ancient Greek and Latin. I retrained as an EFL/ESL teacher and after moving to the UK I've been working as an English teacher and tutor along my studies. I've also taught a variety of modules for both the School of Humanities and Social Science and the School of Art and Media.

In case you're wondering how to pronounce my name, the /c/ is silent and the stress goes on the last syllable. It means happiness in Greek. If you want to get in touch, please do!  I hope I won't make you think it's all Greek to me!

Education/Academic qualification

Master, Linguistics: Theory and Applications, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

27 Sept 2019Feb 2021

Award Date: 2 Nov 2021

Bachelor, English language and literature, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

2 Mar 20165 Jul 2019

Award Date: 7 Nov 2019

Bachelor, Classical Philology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

27 Sept 200528 Feb 2011

Award Date: 11 May 2011


  • P Philology. Linguistics
  • Pragmatics
  • Relevance Theory
  • affect
  • cognition
  • Communication
  • Aesthetics
  • NB Sculpture
  • Parthenon Marbles


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