Clinical and Interactional Linguistics

Phonetics and Linguistics (including Interactional Linguistics) play a key role in the understanding of human communication and also the description, analysis and remediation of communication impairment.

A student in Human Communication Sciences.

The study of linguistic aspects of communication functioning, development and disorder is also of relevance to linguistic and communication theories and our understanding of language and communication more generally.

Much of the research carried out by cluster members has an Interactional Linguistic orientation, drawing particularly on Conversation Analysis and related forms of interactional and discourse analysis. In addition to research into aspects of conversation and social interaction involving typically functioning adults or children, group members carry out work on ‘atypical interaction’, i.e. naturally-occurring everyday interactions involving one or more participants with a communication impairment. The Sheffield group is world-leading in this area of interactional research.

While the cluster encompasses a number of approaches, much of our work shares these features:

  • Use of 'real' data in natural contexts
  • Inductive, data-driven hypothesis formulation
  • Fine-grained description
  • Single case studies and case series design

Some of the communication impairments that are the focus of current or recent investigation include:

  • Autism/Aspergers Syndrome (Ray Wilkinson)
  • Aphasia (Traci Walker; Ray Wilkinson)
  • Acquired dysarthria (Ben Rutter; Ray Wilkinson)
  • Cleft palate (Sara Howard, Anne Harding Bell)
  • Developmental speech and language disorders (Sara Howard, Mick Perkins, Bill Wells)
  • Hearing impairment (Bill Wells)
  • Dementia (Ray Wilkinson)
  • Pragmatic impairment (Mick Perkins)
  • The talk of healthcare professionals (Traci Walker; Ray Wilkinson)


    Academic staff

    Dr Anne Harding-Bell
    Dr Ben Rutter
    Dr Traci Walker
    Professor Ray Wilkinson (Cluster Lead)

    Emeritus staff

    Professor Sara Howard
    Professor Mick Perkins
    Professor Bill Wells

    Research students

    Nisreen al Awaji
    Rachel Bear
    Sajlia Binte Jalil
    Kate Blake
    Samantha Calladine
    Helen Cameron
    Kathryn Emerson
    Emma Greenhalgh
    Carla Munhoz Xavier
    Nyree-Anne Nicholson
    Kathryn Patrick