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Dr Jim O'Driscoll


J.O’ | 01484 47000

J.O’ | 01484 47000

Dr Jim O'Driscoll

BA (Cambridge) MA (Essex) PhD (Gent)

Senior Lecturer in English Language 


After graduating with a BA Hons in English from Cambridge (1974), and being sacked after only one week as a window cleaner, I went to live in Greece and started teaching English as a Foreign Language. While working at the British Council in Athens, I took the Royal Society of Arts Diploma in TEFL, found it fascinating and became a TEFL 'professional '. Ten happy years and three countries later, I found that the attraction of teaching people how to use - and when not to use - the present perfect for the 127th time was beginning to pall. I was, however, more-than-ever fascinated by language, so I did an MA in Descriptive and Applied Linguistics (Essex 1986). Then, after two years as a study skills tutor at the University of Bahrain, I became a lecturer in English at the University of Gent in Belgium, where I also studied for and obtained my PhD degree.

While in Gent, I organized (with S. Slembrouck) two large international conferences (PALA in 1992 and Sociolinguisics Symposium 14 in 2002) and in 2002 became co-ordinator of a new IELTS sub-centre there. In addition to research activities (see Research and Scholarship page) and teaching in post, I went on exchange visits under the Socrates scheme to Finland, the Netherlands and Portugal, taught courses at the Université d’Artois in France (1999-2002) and in 2001 held a Visiting Professorship at the Hogechool in Gent. I also undertook a range of consultancy roles, among which were as adviser on English accents to Leerhout & Hauspie Speech Products (1995) and to Dirk Denoyelle (a multilingual Belgian entertainer, 2003), and (with A-M. Vandenbergen) did the translating, editing and spoken commentary of the English-language version of the video ‘De Visione Dei: a computer-animated analysis of Van Eyck’s Gent Altarpiece’ (2000).

I left Gent in 2005. Among the consultancy roles which I undertook in the next two years was one for Athabasca University in Canada (‘English Second Language Learning Objects for Mobile Devices’) and one for the HEFCE-funded project ‘Transforming Policy and Practice in Dispute Resolution in HEIs’. It was my interest in this latter area - that is, the application of insights from linguistics to conflict resolution studies - which led to my being invited to talk to the northern regional branch of the Association of Heads of University Administration in November 2007 and which, because of developing work in this field here in the English subject area at Huddersfield, was also one reason why I was happy to take up my present post, which I did in October 2007.

Research and Scholarship

My research interests are informed by my first-hand experience of the use of many different languages and environments, an awareness of the variety which exists and the need for us all to understand each other better in a globalised world. They straddle several aspects of language-in-situated-use, more particularly how this affects, and is affected by, the world we live in (sociolinguistics) and what meanings and interpersonal effects are achieved through it (pragmatics). My present foci include the concept of face (in particular the need to refine it as a means of exploring the interplay between situational and cross-cultural factors in interaction), the use of taboo language and attitudes to it and the application of linguistic insights and methodologies to conflict resolution (in particular the application of Goffman 's architecture of interaction to this endeavour).

Apart from publication and conference participation (see ‘Research Outputs’ page), my research-related roles include refereeing of manuscripts for and membership of the Editorial Advisory Board of several international journals, collaboration with Lesley Jeffries and others on an ongoing project on Language in Conflict, membership of the Scientific Committee for international conferences and membership of several professional associations (including GAS, an informal group studying the works of Goffman).

Publications and Other Research Outputs


O’Driscoll, J. (2018). Dances with footings: A Goffmanian perspective on the Soto case. Journal of Politeness Research 14.1: 39-62.

Jeffries, L., O’Driscoll, J. & Evans, M. (2018). Language in Conflict: Linguistics in Mediation. In Dan McIntyre & Hazel Price (eds.), Applying Linguistics: Language and Impact Agenda. Routledge, pp 124-136.


O’Driscoll, J (2017). An interpersonal pragmatic perspective on seductive discourse. In Sorlin, Sandrine (ed.), La séduction du discours / On Seductive Discourse. E-rea (Revue électronique d’études sur le monde Anglophone). 14.2  

O’Driscoll, J (2017). Face and (im)politeness. In Jonathan Culpeper, Michael Haugh & Dániel Z. Kádár (eds.) The Palgrave Handbook of Linguistic (Im)politeness. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp 89-118.


O'Driscoll, J (2013) ‘How to talk about languages: the venues metaphor’ Multilingua: Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication , 32 (5), pp. 601-625. ISSN 1613-3684

O'Driscoll, J (2013) ‘Situational Transformations: the offensive-izing of an email message and the public-ization of offensivenessPragmatics and Society , 4 (3), pp. 369-387. ISSN 1878-9714

O'Driscoll, J (2013) ‘The role of language in interpersonal pragmatics’ Journal of Pragmatics . ISSN 0378-2166


O'Driscoll, J (2010) ‘Some Issues with the Concept of Face: When, What, How and How Much?’. In: Politeness Across Cultures. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 17-41. ISBN 9780230236486


O'Driscoll, J (2010) ‘Epilogue’. In: Historical (Im)politeness. : Peter Lang Publishers. pp. 265-289. ISBN 9783039114962


O'Driscoll, J (2009) ‘A viable Israel and a secure Palestine: Textual intervention in a British public debate’. In: From will to well: Studies in Linguistics offered to Anne-Marie Simon-Vandenbergen. Gent, Belgium: Academia Press. pp. 361-371. ISBN 9789038214962

O'Driscoll, J. and Simon-Vandenbergen, A. (2009) ‘Personalisation in extremist political discourse across cultures’. In: 11th International Pragmatics Conference, 12th - 17th July 2009, Melbourne, Australia , p. 139

O'Driscoll, J (2009) ‘Erving Goffman’. In: The Pragmatics of Interaction. : John Benjamins Publishing Company. pp. 79-95. ISBN 9789027207814

O'Driscoll, J (2009) Britain: for learners of English . : Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780194306447


O'Driscoll, J (2008) ‘Some problems with the concept of face: A review’. In: 4th International Symposium on Politeness, 2nd - 4th July 2008, Budapest , p. 45

O'Driscoll, J (2008) ‘Metaphors we speak by: time for an alternative to the biological metaphor for languages’. In: Annual Conference of the Poetics and Linguistics Association, 23rd - 26th July 2008, University of Sheffield

O'Driscoll, J (2008) ‘Conflict participation frameworks’. In: Conflict Research Society Conference 2008, 2nd - 3rd September 2008, University of Kent, Canterbury


O'Driscoll, J (2007) ‘Brown and Levinson's face: How it can—and can't—help us to understand interaction across cultures’ Intercultural Pragmatics , 4 (4), pp. 463-492. ISSN 1612295X

O'Driscoll, J (2007) ‘What's in an FTA? Reflections on a chance meeting with Claudine’ Journal of Politeness Research Language Behaviour Culture , 3 (2), pp. 243-268. ISSN 1612-5681


O'Driscoll, J (2006) ‘How can linguistics help with conflict research?’. In: Conference Research Society Conference 2006, 6th September 2006, Birmingham

O'Driscoll, J (2006) ‘Linguistics and conflict studies’. In: Linguistic impoliteness and rudeness (LIAR) 2006: confrontation and conflict in discourse, 3rd - 4th July 2006, University of Huddersfield , p. 24

O'Driscoll, J (2006) ‘Languages as venues: an alternative to the biological metaphor’. In: Sociolinguistics Symposium 16, 6th - 8th July 2006, University of Limerick, Limerick


O'Driscoll, J (2005) ‘Erving Goffman’. In: IPrA Handbook of pragmatics. : International Pragmatics Association. .


O'Driscoll, J (2004) ‘World Englishes, Gunnel Melchers and Philip Shaw (book review)’ Belgian journal of english language and literature (2). ISSN 1376-2958

O'Driscoll, J (2004) ‘The discourse of English as T-Rex’. In: Language and the future of Europe: ideologies, policies and practices, 8th - 10th July 2004, Universtiy of Southampton

O'Driscoll, J (2004) ‘World Englishes: A resource book for students, Jennifer Jenkins (book review)’ Belgian journal of english language and literature (2). ISSN 1376-2958


O'Driscoll, J (2002) ‘First-order and second-order politeness: The dispute over 'modelling' politeness’. In: Sociolinguistics Symposium 14, 4th - 6th April 2002, Gent, Belgium.

O’Driscoll, Jim (2002). Tyrannosaurus Rex? The supposed invasion of English in continental Europe. Actas do VI Econtro de APROLINGUAS (Aveiro 20-22/9/2001) In: Moreira, Gilian & Susan Howcroft (Eds.), Linguas: Futuro Mais-Que-Perfeito? (Actas do VI Econtro de APROLINGUAS) Universidade de Aveiro: Aveiro, pp. 255-280.


O'Driscoll, J (2001) ‘A face model of language choice’ Multilingua - Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication , 20 (3), pp. 245-268. ISSN 01678507

O'Driscoll, J (2001) ‘Hiding Your Difference: How Non-global Languages are being Marginalised in Everyday Interaction’ Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development , 22 (6), pp. 475-490. ISSN 01434632


O'Driscoll, J (2000) ‘Sociolinguistics in a straitjacket. (Review of Spolsky's 'Sociolinguistics')’ Functions of language , 7 (1), pp. 133-148. ISSN 0929-998X


O'Driscoll, J (1999) ‘Language choice as identity construction in Pan-European Interaction - A Case Study’. In: Language, Culture and Identity. Copenhagen, Denmark: Aalborg University Press. pp. 115-135. ISBN 9788773076293


O'Driscoll, J (1996) ‘About face: A defence and elaboration of universal dualism’ Journal of Pragmatics , 25 (1), pp. 1-32. ISSN 0378-2166


O'Driscoll, J (1995) Britain: the country and its people: an introduction for learners of English . : Oxford University Press. ISBN 9783464100523


O’Driscoll, Jim (1993). A relationship on the rocks: The Applied Linguist and the Language Teacher. ITL Review of Applied Linguistics 101:107-131. ISSN 0019-0829


O'Driscoll, J (1990) ‘Quality versus equality: making value judgements about language’ BELL: Belgian essays on language and literature , pp. 51-70. ISSN 1376-2958

O'Driscoll, J (1990) Basic English grammar exercises . : Penguin. ISBN 9780140809459


O'Driscoll, J (1988) Basic English grammar . : Penguin. ISBN 9780140808988


O'Driscoll, J (1984) Advanced writing skills . : Penguin. ISBN 9780140808360

research degree supervision

  • Language ideologies

  • English as a global language

  • Interpersonal pragmatics

  • Language in conflict