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Personal profile

Research interests

I am interested in pragmatics, the study of utterance interpretation. In particular, my research explores how ‘natural’, non-linguistic behaviours – tone of voice, facial expressions, gesture – interact with the linguistic properties of utterances (broadly speaking, the words we say). Natural behaviours help us convey our intended meanings and yet the question of how they interact with language is often ignored by linguists. My main theses are outlined in my 2009 book, Pragmatics and Non-Verbal Communication, which charts a point of contact between pragmatics, linguistics, philosophy, cognitive science, ethology and psychology, and provides the analytical basis to answer some important questions: How are natural behaviours interpreted? What do they convey? How can they be best accommodated within a theory of utterance interpretation?

My research increasingly reflects the cross-disciplinary nature of pragmatics. Here are a few examples:

  • Since October 2018, Dr Patricia Kolaiti and I have been working at Brighton on our research project: ‘Literature as a Cognitive Object’, funded under a Marie Sklodowska Curie International Fellowship. Dr Kolaiti and I are currently developing an AHRC bid which builds on the work of CogLit and develops our work on positive perceptual and emotional effects.
  • I am co-founder of the ‘Beyond Meaning’ research network project with colleagues from Université de Neuchatel and The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. The aim of the project is to develop an interdisciplinary, psychologically real theory of expressivity and creativity and it will involve linguists, philosophers and artists. The Beyond Meaning network helds its first international conference in September 2017 and on behalf of the network I am organising a roundtable event entitled 'Relevance-by-the-Sea' at Brighton on 6 November 2019.
  • I am currently working with my colleague Louis de Saussure on a monograph under contract with Cambridge University Press provisionally entitled 'Pragmatics and Emotion'.
  • I maintain an interest in how inferential theories such as relevance theory might be extended to the sociolinguistic and anthropological domains. At the end of 'Pragmatics and Non-Verbal Communication' I throw down the following challenge: "Much work in discourse analysis and sociolinguistics centers on social notions such as power relations and inequality, and examines how they are manifested, reinforced and even constructed by discourse. Approaching the sociolinguistic domain from a different perspective—that is, starting with the minds of the individuals who create the discourse, and treating macro-level sociolinguistic phenomena as resulting from an accumulation of individual micro-level acts—may yield interesting and worthwhile results."

Supervisory Interests

I currently have a number of PhD students, working on a range of issues: the communication of mathematics (this PhD has a creative practice component); the role of prosody in the development of pragmatic competence among L2 learners; the role of metaphor comprehension in pragmatic competence among L2 learners. lexical pragmatics and ‘Netspeak’ among Chinese internet users; adopting a ‘difference-not-deficit’ approach to language-use among people with autism; relevance theory and the interpretation of Anglo-American modernist literature. All of these reflect my interest in territories beyond those linguists and pragmatists traditionally seek to explore.

Specific areas of enquiry include, but are not limited to:

  • Pragmatics
  • Relevance theory
  • Non-verbal communication (including prosody)
  • Expressive meaning
  • Emotions and the communication of emotion
  • Pragmatics and cognitive science

Please contact me if you feel you have a PhD proposal which explores the territory that exists beyond traditional pragmatics.

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Tim Wharton is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Emotion Arts & Humanities
Communication Arts & Humanities
Prosody Arts & Humanities
Utterance Arts & Humanities
Language Arts & Humanities
Intentional Communication Arts & Humanities
Dichotomy Arts & Humanities
Passion Arts & Humanities

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2018 2020

Research Output 2003 2022

Pragmatics and Emotion

Wharton, T. & de Saussure, L., 2022, (Accepted/In press) Cambridge University Press. 300 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook - authoredResearchpeer-review

Emotion
Communication
Passion
Cognition
Expressive

Acquiring Prosody

Wharton, T., Jul 2019, (Accepted/In press) Developmental and Clinical Pragmatics. Schneider, K. & Ifantidou, E. (eds.). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, Vol. 13. (Handbooks of Pragmatics; vol. 13).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterResearchpeer-review

pragmatics
phonology

La notion de pertinence au défi des effets émotionnels

Translated title of the contribution: Relevance and emotional effevctsde Saussure, L. & Wharton, T., 5 Jul 2019, In : Travaux interdisciplinaires sur la parole et le langage (TIPA). 35, Emo-Langages, p. 1-23

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
File
Emotion
Communication
Relevance Theory
Intentions
Affective

Slave to the passions: Making emotions relevant

Wharton, T. & Strey, C., 20 Aug 2019, Relevance: Pragmatics and Interpretation. Scott, K., Clark, B. & Carston, R. (eds.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 253-267 14 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterResearchpeer-review

Slaves
Emotion
Passion
Procedural
Decoding

Paralanguage

Wharton, T., 1 Sep 2016, The Routledge Handbook of Pragmatics. Barron, A., Steen, G. & Yueguo, G. (eds.). London: Routledge, p. 69-75 7 p. (Routledge Handbooks in Applied Linguistics).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterResearchpeer-review

Paralanguage
Speaker Meaning
Utterance
Communication
Discourse