Wendy O'Neill

Wendy O’Neill

Email: W.L.A.O-Neill@liverpool.ac.uk

Thesis Title

Language stories from Seaton Branch Line: Sharing the Hidden Voices of Social and Cultural Change


University of Liverpool


Dr. Stefania Tufi
Dr. Robert Blackwood

Research Summary

My research project proposes to build an innovative, interdisciplinary methodological framework using sociolinguistic analyses to (re-)examine the use of language in archival material and facilitate the emergence of groups that are under-represented in existing research. Sociolinguistic approaches to the study of language include an in-context assessment of language repertoires as they are deployed by groups and individuals and in relation to characteristics such as ethnolinguistic background, place of origin, and socio-economic aspects. This research will apply these sociolinguistic and ethnographic techniques which examine placemaking to enhance historical analysis and interpretation of places and spaces of transport by examination of the social and cultural influence of the railways on communities in Seaton, Devon through a study of the former branch line and its subsequent life as a heritage tramway. The project therefore highlights the role of language as heritage while contributing to cutting-edge debates about the ecological dimension of memorialisation processes. The project will be undertaken with support from Seaton Tramway and the National Railway Museum.

Research Interests

Linguistic Landscape,
Language as heritage and


O’Neill, W., 2023. Covid-19: Methodological Considerations, Design and Experience in Linguistic Landscape Studies. Modern Languages Open, 0(1), p.10.DOI: https://doi.org/10.3828/mlo.v0i0.455


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