What gives me the qualifications to write about language?

After taking degrees that included the study of French, Spanish, Linguistics and Phonetics, I lectured on English phonetics for half a dozen years, and was then the BBC’s Pronunciation Adviser for over twenty years. I was the editor of the 2nd edition of the BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names (OUP), and am the co-author, with Stewart Clark, of Word for Word, an English usage text book for foreign learners (OUP), and Words: A User’s Guide, aimed at native speakers (Pearson Education).

During my years with the BBC I was a frequent broadcaster: on all the national radio networks, many of the local radio services, the World Service, and also television channels – including independent television, always on the subject of language.

I have also lectured in many countries on the same topics.


  1. Hello

    I just discovered your blog. It is great to see people as motivated and interested about languages and language learning as we are.

    My name is Daniel, I am one of the founders of Hablaa.com a multilingual online dictionary.

    We have about 250 different dictionaries online:


    Our goal is to save endangered languages by user contribution. We already cover more than 58 languages, many of them are endangered.

    In case you decide to link or write about us it would help us greatly.

    Please let me know if you need more information or if there is anything I can do for you!



    PS: In case you are interested to contribute, that would be great as well.

  2. (Direct or Bcc) Please note that
    Globish (Parallel English) is
    updated on 1/1/2014. Please
    visit (http://www.mngogate.com/)
    indexpage > note (e) nearly
    at end of page. Hidden pdf.

    biodata > archives note added.
    Other articles continue.
    Thanks. – Madhukar Gogate

  3. “What gives me the qualifications …”

    Who is “me”? Do you have a name?

  4. @Bernie Prior – try clicking the link to the book ‘Word for Word’, that’ll tell ya.
    Simples! 🙂

  5. Hi,

    I am someone who has a lot of interest in languages. I am speaking English as a second language, and I find it very interesting to read your articles, in particular those, refering to the users of English as a second language. I could certainly see myself as one of those, altogether with mispronouncing of words and an accent, and some kind of more intimate familiarity with English grammar, in comparison to average British speaker.

    Having lived in Britian for 10 years, I couldn’t not observe that my language has recieved…mmm… quite a refinement. Noweadays, I wouldn’t even blink as hear anyone addressing to me as a cockle or cock ( well it is usually older female individuals who lived in this same area of Manchester/Lancashire ).

    Just on this occasion, may I ask you a question? It is about the use of English language in BBC programmes…

    Our baby daughter enjoys watching Bing, it is a baby cartoon on Cbeebies. In almost every episode, Bing uses incorrect forms of irregular English verbs.

    This is is a show for babies… It appears that this misuse of grammar is actually intended.

    As a linguist, would you actually be against such misuse of grammar or not?

    Thank you


  6. Anya – I don’t think that much damage can be done by very young babies hearing incorrect verb forms for what is probably under ten minutes a day, so long as for the rest of the time correct, even if much simplified, English is fed to them. I haven’t watched Bing myself, so cannot comment on the specific errors that Bing may use.

  7. In the latest edition of Thinking Allowed on Radio 4, Laurie Taylor gets so confused about what I think is called the BATH vowel that it immediately made me think of this blog, and I thought you might be interested/exasperated to hear it:


    (Starting about 2 minutes from the end).

    Twitter would probably be a more appropriate medium for posting this but I’ve never really figured out how it works.

  8. Sorry, make that 3 minutes from the end.

  9. Thanks Paul – any examples of any of the points I raise are always welcome.

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