Joshua Bengough-Smith

I completed my undergraduate studies in French and Linguistics at the University of Sheffield in 2013. Since then I have gone on to complete my MA in French Studies (Research Track) with the assistance of a Dr Marjorie Shaw bursary, for which I was also awarded a Petrie Watson Exhibition. My MA dissertation focused on the discourse surrounding the Ordonnance de Villers-Cotterêts of 1539, which is often cited as a founding piece of language planning in histories of the French language. In October 2015 I returned to Sheffield once more to begin my doctoral studies in French, which is generously funded by an AHRC WRoCAH competition scholarship.

My current research expands upon my MA dissertation, remaining focused on the French language as it was used in the sixteenth century. Following recent trends in Historical Sociolinguistics, this entails the curation of a small corpus of private letters from non-professional writers, which is subjected to linguistic analysis, with the aim of supplementing traditional accounts of the history of the French language. This project is being supervised by Dr Kristine Horner, Professor Penny Simons, and Dr Graham Williams.
My other research interests include Medieval French Literature, Sociolinguistics, Formal Linguistics (primarily Syntax and Second Language Acquisition), and Discourse Analysis.


Bengough-Smith, J. (2016) ‘Linguistic practices in Renaissance France’ at 1st Bristol Postgraduate Conference on Language and Society, at the University of Bristol, 4 March.
— (2016) ‘A Founding Moment in the History of the French Language? A Discursive Analysis of the Ordonnance de Villers-Cotterêts (1539)’ at Sheffield Linguistics Postgraduate Conference, at the University of Sheffield, 27 January.
— (2015) ‘Turning words into numbers: using quantitative methods to study French language history’ at French Research Series: Postgraduate Work In Progress Session, at the University of Sheffield, 14 December.
— (2015) 'A founding moment for the French language? The role of the Edict of Villers-Cotterêts (1539)' poster presentation in Sheffield Linguistics Postgraduate Conference, at the University of Sheffield, 5 March; later adapted for School of Languages and Cultures Postgraduate Colloquium: Facing Challenges, at the University of Sheffield, 20 May.
— (2014) 'Interpreting early French linguistic policy: the meaning and impact of François I's Edict of Villers-Cotterêts' in Historical Sociolinguistics Network: Discourses on Language and Power, at the University of Sheffield, 6 February.

Other activities

Since November 2014 I have been a convener for the Medieval French Reading Group.
I am Lead Organiser for HaCKS, a student-led Sociolinguistics forum that incorporates a seminar series and website, which is kindly supported by WRoCAH.
I am also a founding Editor for the WRoCAH Student Journal.
I currently represent Postgraduate Research students on the French Staff-Student Committee. If anyone is considering postgraduate study in the School of Languages and Cultures then I am happy to be contacted to discuss my experience here in Sheffield.