The University of Huddersfield’s research using corpus stylistics has led to the development of Language Unlocked. A consultancy service operating out of the stylistics research centre in the Linguistics and Modern Languages subject area, Language Unlocked uses linguistic methodologies and interpretative procedures to assist public, private, third-sector and non-governmental organisations, including Unions21 and the Green Party.

What was the problem?

In 2012, Unions21, a think tank whose work is centred on the future of the union movement, asked the research team to examine the portrayal of unions in British newspapers. The goal was to provide advice to press officers and key officials on how to encourage more objective representation of unions.

Benefits of this research

With a focus on raising language awareness, Language Unlocked helps organisations to communicate strategies and achieve long-term goals through policies, manifestos and communications.

What did we do?

Following a draft report of the analysis in 2013, the Language Unlocked team was invited to present its key findings at Unions21’s 20th anniversary conference, raising awareness of the continued negative representation of unions in the British press.

In the run-up to the May 2013 local elections the Green Party asked the Language Unlocked team to analyse the use of terms including Green Party, green, environment and sustainable in print news reporting in the British press. A draft report was presented to the Party in December 2012 and the findings informed the marketing strategies of a third-party advertising agency, scripting decisions for the Party’s country election broadcast and the development of a new vision statement for the party. The findings also formed the basis of a training workshop delivered by the Language Unlocked team to key Party members, and training materials that were distributed throughout the wider organisation.

What happened next?

Language Unlocked research has also been successfully applied in the private sector in the form of a commission from leading flow-process company, Intensichem. The company asked the team to develop media messages that would emphasise the company’s focus on delivering scalable chemical flow processes. By using techniques from corpus linguistics and a large database of written British English, the Language Unlocked team were able to carry out an analysis of the denotational and connotational meanings of a range of Intensichem promotional copy. This enabled the team to develop a new company strap-line with tried and tested positive connotations.