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Dr Liz Holt

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Dr Elizabeth Holt

BA DPhil (York) FHEA

Senior Lecturer in English Language


Liz Holt studied Sociology at University of York and followed this with a DPhil in Sociology with the title ‘Figures of Speech: An Exploration of the Use of Idiomatic Phrases in Conversation’. She was appointed to Brunel University in 1990 as a temporary lecturer in Social Sciences and to Huddersfield in 1991.

Liz collaborates with colleagues from York, Leeds and London Universities. She regularly presents at international conferences, such as IPrA and has co-edited a collection of articles on Conversation Analysis for CUP. She has been awarded a University bursary for a research studentship in CA.

She frequently reviews for international journals such as Research on language and Society.

Research and Scholarship

My area of research is Conversation Analysis, particularly the use of reported speech and idiomatic expressions in talk-in-interaction. I have also studied death announcements in conversations, and I am currently involved in the analysis of laughter in both institutional and informal talk.

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Holt, E (2016) ‘Laughter at Last: Playfulness and laughter in interaction’ Journal of Pragmatics . ISSN 0378-2166


Holt, E (2015) ‘Indirect reported speech in interaction’. In: Indirect Reports and Pragmatics: Interdisciplinary Studies (Perspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology). : Springer. pp. 167-187. ISBN 978-3319213941

Holt, E. and Glenn, P. (2015) ‘Laughter’. In: Handbook of Pragmatics. : John Benjamins. pp. 1-20. ISBN 9789027233295

Glenn, P. and Holt, E. (2015) ‘Laughter’. In: The International Encyclopedia of Language and Social Interaction. : Wiley. . ISBN 9781118611463


Glenn, P. and Holt, E. (2013) ‘Introduction’. In: Studies of Laughter in Interaction. : Continuum Press. . ISBN 9781441164797

Glenn, P. and Holt, E. (2013) Studies of laughter in interaction . : Continuum Press. ISBN 9781441164797

Holt, E (2013) ‘‘There’s many a true word said in jest’: Seriousness and non-seriousness in interaction’. In: Studies of Laughter in Interaction. : Continuum Press. pp. 69-89. ISBN 9781441164797

Holt, E (2013) ‘Conversation Analysis and Laughter’. In: The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. : Blackwell Publishing. . ISBN 9781405198431


Holt, E (2012) ‘Using Laugh Responses to Defuse Complaints’ Research on Language and Social Interaction , 45 (4), pp. 430-448. ISSN 0835-1813


Holt, E (2011) ‘On the nature of 'laughables' : laughter as a response to overdone figurative phrases’ Pragmatics , 21 (3), pp. 393-410. ISSN 1018-2101

Holt, E (2011) ‘There's many a true word spoken in jest : on the seriousness and non-seriousness in interaction’. In: 12th International pragmatics conference, 3-8th July 2011, University of Manchester

Holt, E (2011) ‘There's many a true word spoken in jest : on the seriousness and non-seriousness in interaction’. In: Laughter and Humor in Interaction Conference, 23-24th June 2011, Emmerson College, Boston, USA


Holt, E (2010) ‘Book review: Metaphor in Discourse, by Elena Semino, 2008. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 247. ISBN 9780521686969’ Language and Literature , 19 (3), pp. 330-333. ISSN 0963-9470

Holt, E (2010) ‘The last laugh: Shared laughter and topic termination’ Journal of Pragmatics , 42 (6), pp. 1513-1525. ISSN 0378-2166

Holt, E. and Johnson, A. (2010) ‘Socio-pragmatic aspects of legal talk: police interviews and trial discourse’. In: The Routledge Handbook of Forensic Linguistics. : Routledge. pp. 21-36. ISBN 9780415463096


Holt, E (2009) ‘The last laugh: laughter in topic termination’. In: International Conference on Laughter and Humour in Interaction, 24th - 25th June 2009, University of Huddersfield, UK , p. 8

Holt, E (2009) ‘Reported speech’. In: The Pragmatics of Interaction. : John Benjamins Publishing Company. pp. 190-205. ISBN 9789027207814


Holt, E. and Clift, R. (2007) Reporting talk: reported speech in interaction . Studies in Interactional Sociolinguistics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521824835

Holt, E (2007) ‘Laughter and laughables in conversation’. In: 10th International Pragmatics Conference, 8 - 13 July 2007, Goteborg, Sweden


Holt, E. and Johnson, A. (2006) ‘Formulating the facts: Responses to storytelling in police/suspect interviews’. In: International Conference on Conversation Analysis, 10 - 14 May 2006, Helsinki

Holt, E. and Drew, P. (2006) ‘Figures of speech’. In: Conversation analysis: Turn design and action formation. : Sage. pp. 117-149. ISBN 9781412918480


Holt, E. and Drew, P. (2005) ‘Figurative Pivots: The Use of Figurative Expressions in Pivotal Topic Transitions’ Research on Language and Social Interaction , 38 (1), pp. 35-61. ISSN 0835-1813


Holt, E (2002) ‘Enacting impropriety: Reported speech and laughter in conversation’. In: ICCA 2002 (International Conference on Conversation Analysis), 17th - 21st May 2002, University of Copenhagen, Denmark , p. 82


Holt, E. and Drew, P. (2001) ‘Idiomatic expressions as topical pivots’. In: Interdisciplinary Workshop on Corpus-Based & Processing Approaches to Figurative Language (part of Corpus Linguistics Conference 2001), 30th March - 2nd April 2001, Lancaster University


Holt, E (2000) ‘The use of direct reported speech in 'institutional talk' and 'ordinary conversation'’. In: 7th International Pragmatics Conference, 9-14 July 2000, Budapest

Holt, E (2000) ‘Reporting and Reacting: Concurrent Responses to Reported Speech’ Research on Language and Social Interaction , 33 (4), pp. 425-454. ISSN 08351813


Holt, E (1999) ‘Just gassing: An analysis of direct reported speech in a conversation between employees of a gas supply company’ Text: an interdisciplinary journal for the study of discourse , 19 (4), pp. 505-537. ISSN 0165-4888

Holt, E (1999) ‘Reported speech and recipients’ reactions in interaction’. In: Pragmatics in 1998: selected papers from the 6th International Pragmatics Conference. Antwerp: International Pragmatics Association. pp. 261-275. ISBN 9789080114838


Drew, P. and Holt, E. (1998) ‘Figures of speech: Figurative expressions and the management of topic transition in conversation’ Language in society , 27 (4), pp. 495-522. ISSN 0047-4045

Holt, E (1998) ‘I asked him why and he said "wel it's because...": The sequential position and interactional functions of direct and indirect reported speech in conversation’. In: 6th International Pragmatics Conference, 19th - 24th July 1998, Reims, France


Holt, E (1996) ‘Reporting on talk: the use of direct reported speech in conversation’ Research on Language and Social Interaction , 29 (3), pp. 219-245. ISSN 0835-1813

Holt, E (1996) ‘Reporting on talk: the use of direct reported speech in conversation’. In: 5th International Pragmatics Conference, 4th - 9th July 1996, Mexico City, Mexico , p. 36


Holt, E. and Drew, P. (1995) ‘Idiomatic expressions and their role in the organization of topic transition in conversation’. In: Idioms: structural and psychological perspectives. : Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. pp. 117-131. ISBN 9780805815054


Holt, E (1993) ‘The structure of death announcements: Looking on the bright side of death’ Text: an interdisciplinary journal for the study of discourse , 13 (2), pp. 189-212. ISSN 0165-4888


Holt, E (1992) ‘Idioms and topic termination’. In: Proceedings of Idioms: International Conference on Idioms. : Institute for Language Technology and Artificial Intelligence. . ISBN 9789074029056


Holt, E. and Drew, P. (1988) ‘Complainable matters: the use of idiomatic expressions in making complaints’ Social Problems , 35 (4), pp. 398-417. ISSN 0037-7791

Research degree supervision

I could supervise projects in: 

  • Conversation Analsysis, focusing on informal or institutional talk.

  • Research into metaphor or figurative/idiomatic expressions

  • Research using Conversation Analysis, especially on call centre interaction, reported speech, laughter, topic transition and figurative phrases.