Dr Christiana Themistocleous
Dr Christiana Themistocleous currently investigates the presence of publicly visible multilingual signs in the UK and Cyprus.
Using the Linguistic Landscape approach, she explores how multilingualism is evident through public signs produced by the government and citizens - street signs, billboards, posters, advertisements and even graffiti.
Christiana investigates which languages are included or excluded in public signs and identifies ideologies, which may relate to migration, conflict, tolerance and social cohesion. She recently published a paper looking at conflict and peace in Nicosia, the only divided capital in Europe.
"I think students are very excited about sociolinguistics because they can investigate how language is used in society by exploring aspects that directly relate to them in real life; from how language is used in the media to how people speak differently from one another in different areas, generations and genders."
Multilingualism in the media
Christiana is also interested in the representation of multilingualism in the media. She published a paper with Sylvia Jaworska (University of Reading) looking at how newspapers in the UK talk about multilingualism. Their research showed that newspapers project positive and negative ideologies, which influence the general public's views towards living in a multilingual community.
"I was always interested in multilingualism, being multilingual myself and living in a multilingual community. In Britain, it is particularly interesting because there are more and more people coming from diverse places. I noticed an increase of crimes against ethnic minorities reported in newspapers during Brexit and that made me think: 'What is going on with people who speak other languages? What are people's attitudes towards living in a multilingual community?'"
Christiana's research feeds directly into her teaching through the Sociolinguistics module in year 2. She asks students to collect their own data in groups and to create their own website presenting their findings. Through this process students gain valuable research, group and presentation skills, which are essential for future employment.
"I want students to go out into the community and talk to people who speak different languages, to conduct interviews, or take photos of multilingual signs and then develop and present this work in creative ways through the web. This helps students develop knowledge and insight into multilingualism as well as valuable skills for the future."