Dr Mark Sebba

Reader

Research Interests

The 2011 census in England was the first to ask a question about language: but the questions raised there (and in Scotland, where the census also included new language questions) actually raised more questions than they answered. I have recently been working on papers on this topic, including "‘English a foreign tongue’: The 2011 Census in England and the misunderstanding of multilingualism". You can read a preprint version here.

Much of my current research concerns written bilingual and multilingual texts - magazines, websites, emails and other texts which contain a mixture of languages. I have edited a book,Language Mixing and Code-Switching in Writing: Approaches to Mixed-Language Written Discourse on the topic together with Shahrzad Mahootian and Carla Jonsson. My approach includes what has traditionally been called code-switching (i.e. the use of two languages within one text) but goes beyond that, to explore multilingual texts as literacy practices which draw on different repertoires of languages, visual images, spatial arrangements etc.

Another main interest of mine is in the Sociolinguistics of Orthography, a relatively unexplored field which examines the cultural and social aspects of spelling and writing systems. My book Spelling and Society: The culture and politics of orthography around the world was published by Cambridge University Press in 2007and has now published in paperback as well. You can read a review by Harriet Ottenheimer in Language Documentation and Conservation 3:2 (2009), here . At least one other person has read the book too, according to the THES.

I am on the editorial board of the journal Writing Systems Research and have written an article on "Sociolinguistic approaches to writing systems research" which appears in the first issue. You can read a postprint version here.

My other main interests have been in pidgin and creole languages and in the analysis of conversational code switching in bilingual communities - interests which come together in my (1993) book, London Jamaican (Longman), which is about the use of English and Creole among Caribbeans in London.

I am also interested in corpus linguistics - especially problems of bilingual spoken corpora - and have set up a corpus of written British Creole. I am a member of the Steering Committee of the LIPPS group, which is developing standards for the transcription and encoding of multilingual data, and aims to set up an international database of code-switching data. Our publication, the LIDES Coding Manual: A Document for Preparing and Analysing Language Interaction Data contains advice, guidelines and recommended transcription standards for researchers with bilingual data.

Prior to coming to Lancaster I did research in the field of syntax, and wrote The Syntax of Serial Verbs (Benjamins, 1987), a book which deals with a construction type found in creole languages, West African languages and Chinese. I have previously done freelance film and video work. My book Contact Languages: pidgins and creoles was published by Macmillan in 1997.

Taking A-level English Language? Link to the Linguistics Department's English Language A-level Web Site

Iconicity, attribution and branding in orthography
Sebba, M. 08/2015 In: Written Language and Literacy. 18, 2, p. 208-227. 20 p.
Journal article

The passive exclusion of Irish in the linguistic landscape: a nexus analysis
Thistlethwaite, J., Sebba, M. 08/2015 In: Conflict, exclusion and dissent in the linguistic landscape. Palgrave Macmillan p. 27-51. 25 p. ISBN: 9781137426277.
Chapter

Multilingualism in written discourse: An approach to the analysis of multilingual texts
Sebba, M. 02/2013 In: International Journal of Bilingualism. 17, 1, p. 97–118. 22 p.
Journal article

The visual construction of language hierarchy: the case of banknotes, coins and stamps
Sebba, M. 01/2013 In: Journal of Language and Politics. 12, 1, p. 101-125. 25 p.
Journal article

Making it real: ‘Jamaican’, ‘Jafaican’ and authenticity in the language of British youth
Sebba, M., Dray, S. 2013 In: Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik. 60, 3, p. 255-273. 18 p.
Journal article

Orthography as Social Action: Scripts, Spelling, Identity and Power
Sebba, M., Jaffe, A., Androutsopoulos, J., Johnson, S. 06/2012 Berlin : De Gruyter. 392 p. ISBN: 978-1-61451-136-6. Electronic ISBN: 978-1-61451-103-8.
Book

Orthography as literacy: how Manx was “reduced to writing”
Sebba, M. 06/2012 In: Orthography as Social Action. Berlin : De Gruyter p. 161-176. 16 p.
Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Orthography as social action: Scripts, spelling, identity and power
Sebba, M. 06/2012 In: Orthography as Social Action. Berlin : De Gruyter p. 1-20. 20 p.
Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Language mixing and code-switching in writing: approaches to mixed-language written discourse.
Sebba, M., Mahootian, S., Jonsson, C. 1/01/2012 New York and London : Routledge. 275 p. ISBN: 978-0-415-87946-0. Electronic ISBN: 978-0-203-13613-3.
Book

Researching and theorising multilingual texts.
Sebba, M. 1/01/2012 In: Language mixing and code-switching in writing: approaches to mixed-language written discourse.. New York and London : Routledge p. 1-26. 26 p.
Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Introduction - Part IV: Visual and semiotic perspectives on multilingualism
Sebba, M. 2012
Other chapter contribution

Writing switching in British Creole
Sebba, M. 2012 In: Language Mixing and Code-Switching in Writing. New York and London : Routledge p. 89-105. 17 p.
Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Societal bilingualism.
Sebba, M. 09/2010 In: The SAGE Handbook of Sociolinguistics. Los Angeles, London : Sage 15 p. ISBN: 978-1-84787-095-7.
Chapter

Discourses in transit.
Sebba, M. 04/2010 In: Semiotic Landscapes: Language, Image, Space.. London : Continuum 298 p. ISBN: 9781847061829.
Chapter

On the notions of congruence and convergence in code-switching
Sebba, M. 2009 In: The Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Code-Switching. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press p. 40-57. 18 p. ISBN: 9780521875912.
Chapter

Sociolinguistic approaches to writing systems research.
Sebba, M. 2009 In: Writing Systems Research. 1, 1, p. 35-49. 15 p.
Journal article

Spelling as a social practice
Sebba, M. 2009 In: Routledge Companion to English Language Studies. London : Routledge p. 243-257. 15 p. ISBN: 978-0-415-40338-2.
Chapter

'Coding and Analyzing Multilingual Data: The LIDES Project'.
Gardner-Chloros, P., Moyer, M., Sebba, M. 2007 In: Creating and Digitizing Language Corpora. London : Palgrave Macmillan
Chapter

British Black English.
Dray, S., Sebba, M. 2007 In: Oxford Companion to Black British History. Oxford : Oxford University Press
Chapter

Caribbean Creoles and British Black English.
Sebba, M. 2007 In: Language in the British Isles. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press p. 276-292. 17 p. ISBN: 9780521791502.
Chapter

Developing and using a corpus of written Creole.
Sebba, M., Dray, S. 2007 In: Creating and Digitizing Language Corpora:. London : Palgrave Macmillan ISBN: 978-1403943668.
Chapter

Identity and language construction in an online community: the case of 'Ali G'.
Sebba, M. 2007 In: Social identity and communicative styles - An alternative approach to linguistic variability.. Berlin : Mouton de Gruyter p. 361-392. 32 p.
Chapter

Spelling and Society: The Culture and Politics of orthography around the world.
Sebba, M. 2007 Cambridge : Cambridge University Press. 189 p. ISBN: 9780521848459.
Book

'Written code-switching' to the 'semiotics of mixed-language texts': a new approach to plurilingual writings.
Sebba, M. 2006
Conference paper

Ideology and Alphabets in the former USSR.
Sebba, M. 2006 In: Language Problems and Language Planning. 30, 2, p. 99-125. 27 p.
Journal article

Who are the 'authentic' speakers? Youth language practices in a once 'Creole-speaking community' and the notion of ethnicity.
Dray, S., Sebba, M. 2006
Conference paper

Language practices and identities of young 'Caribbeans' in Manchester.
Dray, S., Sebba, M. 2005
Conference paper

Towards a typology and analytical framework for mixed-language texts.
Sebba, M. 2005
Conference paper

British Creole: morphology and syntax.
Sebba, M. 2004 In: A handbook of varieties of English: a multimedia reference tool. Berlin : Mouton de Gruyter p. 196-208. 13 p. ISBN: 3110175320.
Chapter

Ideology and alphabets in the former USSR.
Sebba, M. 2003
Working paper

Is it Creole, is it English, is it valid? Developing and using a corpus of unstandardised written language.
Sebba, M., Dray, S. 2003 In: Corpus linguistics by the Lune: a festschrift for Geoffrey Leech. Frankfurt : Peter Lang p. 223-239. 17 p. ISBN: 3631509522.
Chapter

Spelling rebellion.
Sebba, M. 2003 In: Discourse constructions of youth identities. Amsterdam : John Benjamins p. 151-172. 22 p. ISBN: 1588113558.
Chapter

Will the real impersonator please stand up? Language and identity in the Ali G websites.
Sebba, M. 2003 In: Arbeiten aus Anglistik und Amerikanistik (AAA). 28, 2, p. 279-304. 26 p.
Journal article

‘Global’ and ‘local’ identities in the discourses of British born Caribbeans
Sebba, M., Tate, S. 03/2002 In: International Journal of Bilingualism. 6, 1, p. 75-89. 15 p.
Journal article

Regulated Spaces: language alternation in writing.
Sebba, M. 2002
Conference paper

Orthography.
Sebba, M. 2001 In: Concise encyclopedia of sociolinguistics. Elsevier Science Publishing
Chapter

Review of Gunther Kress, ‘Early spelling: between convention and creativity’.
Sebba, M. 2001 In: Written Language and Literacy. 4, 2, p. 261-264. 4 p.
Journal article

Serial verbs.
Sebba, M. 2001 In: International encyclopedia of the social and behavioural sciences. Elsevier Science Publishing
Chapter

Spelling.
Sebba, M. 2001 In: International encyclopedia of the social and behavioural sciences. Elsevier Science Publishing
Chapter

Building a corpus of spoken sylheti.
Baker, J.P., Lie, M., McEnery, A.M., Sebba, M. 12/2000 In: Literary and Linguistic Computing. 15, 4, p. 421-432. 12 p.
Journal article

Orthography as literacy: how Manx was ‘reduced to writing’.
Sebba, M., Ostler, N., Rudes, B. 09/2000
Conference paper

The LIPPS group (language interaction in plurilingual and plurilectal speakers): the LIDES coding manual: a document for preparing and analysing language interaction data.
Sebba, M., Barnett, R., Codo, E., Eppler, E., Forcadell, M., Gardner-Chloros, P., Van Hout, R., Moyer, M., Torras, M.C., Turell, M.T., Starren, M., Wensing, S. 06/2000
Working paper

Orthography and ideology: issues in Sranan spelling.
Sebba, M. 2000 In: Linguistics. 38, 5, p. 925-948. 24 p.
Journal article

What is 'Mother Tongue'?: some problems posed by London Jamaican
Sebba, M. 2000 In: Language Blacks and Gypsies, Languages without a written tradition and their role in education. London : Whiting and Birch p. 109-121. 13 p.
Chapter

Writing switching in British Creole.
Sebba, M. 2000 In: Multilingual literacies: reading and writing different worlds. Amsterdam : John Benjamins p. 171-187. 17 p.
Chapter

Sharing bilingual data with other researchers: steps to an international database.
Gardner-Chloros, P., Van Hout, R., Moyer, M., Sebba, M. 12/1999 In: International Journal of Bilingualism. 3, 4, p. 395-424. 30 p.
Journal article

Social factors do matter! (Commissioned) peer commentary on keynote article ‘Borrowing and shift-induced interference: contrasting patterns in French-Germanic contact in Brussels and Strasbourg’ by Jeanine Treffers-Daller.
Sebba, M. 08/1999 In: Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. 2, 2, p. 77-79. 3 p.
Journal article

Building a corpus of spoken sylheti.
Lie, M., Baker, P., McEnery, A.M., Sebba, M. 1999 In: Proceedings of the 3rd conference of the foundation for endangered languages. Bath : Foundation for Endangered Languages p. 67-75. 9 p.
Chapter

The corpus of written British Creole: a user’s guide.
Sebba, M., Kedge, S., Dray, S. 1999
Working paper