Research Projects


FemChildLing sets off to contribute a linguistic approach to the concept of female childhood as a socio-cultural construction within English-speaking contexts during the period 1750-1900. Drawing on previous research in the social sciences, the project ultimately aims to ascertain the beneficial impact linguistic models may have on the interdisciplinary investigation of cultural scripts on age identities and age-stages.

More specifically, this teams research will pursue the quantitative and qualitative exploration of the concept of childhood as a culturally constructed age-stage in a corpus of authentic biographical discourse, using rigorously-selected linguistic tools and methods.

The goals of the project are three-fold:

  1.  to explore the potentially diverse role(s) of women’s childhood and female children in dictionaries of national biography within an English-speaking context.
  2.  to verify the existence of a dynamic, cross-cultural and multi-faceted socio-cognitive construal of normal female childhood reflecting learned patterns of thinking during the period and context under scrutiny.
  3.  to reconstruct different schemes of subjective awareness on changing childhood patterns as linguistically projected by living biographers of past lives.

For this purpose, the project is principally based on linguistic tools and concepts from Cognitive Lingustics (Nuyts 2001), Functional Linguistics (Hunston and Thompson 2000, Martin & White 2005), Cultural Linguistics (Sharifian 2011, 2014, 2017) and Corpus Linguistics (Baker 2004, Stefanowitsch and Gries 2003). The data is mainly but not only from Dictionaries of National Biography of different English-speaking countries.

The project contends that a quantitative and qualitative analysis of results will reveal on the one hand the existence of cross-cultural and historical variation in the conceptualization of female childhood within the so-called English language complex, distant from the homogenising, all too sweeping and contemporary-driven chronological definition of this age-stage. On the other, it will bring to light different experiences of female childhood affecting specific identity groups. The investigation is expected to bring forward a complex landscape of contrastive cross-cultural childhood experiences of concern for a wide-array of theoreticians and professionals.


  • Baker, P. (2004). Querying Keywords: Questions of Difference, Frequency, and Sense in Keywords Analysis. Journal of English Linguistics, 32(4), 346–359.
  • Hunston, S., & Thompson, G. (Eds.). (2000) Evaluation in text: authorial stance and the construction of discourse. New York: Oxford UP.
  • Martin, J. R & White, P. R. (2005). The language of evaluation. New York: Palgrave McMillan
  • Nuyts, Jan. (2001). Epistemic Modality, Language and Conceptualization: A Cognitive-Pragmatic Perspective. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  • Sharifan, F. (2011): Cultural Conceptualisations and Language Theoretical framework and applications, Philadelphia/Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
  • Sharifian, F. (2014). The Routledge handbook of language and culture. New York/London: Routledge.
  • Sharifian, F. (2017). Cultural Linguistics. The state of the art. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publ. Co.
  • Stefanowitsch, A. & Gries, S. Th. (2003). Collostructions: Investigating the interaction of words and constructions. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 8(2), 209-243.


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