Dr James Murphy

About me

BA (Hons.) French and German (2i, Manchester, 2010)
MA Linguistics (with Distinction, Manchester, 2011)
PhD Linguistics (Manchester, 2014)

Area of expertise

My main research interests are in the fields of meaning in interaction and political discourse analysis (and the confluence of the two).  I am particularly interested in the manifestation of politeness and impoliteness, both in everyday talk and in political language -- this can be seen in my work on (im)politeness strategies at Prime Minister's Questions, and my doctoral research on apologies in political discourse.  I also explore how constraints placed on interactants in Parliament affect their language choices, and how their utterances are interpreted by the public at large. 

I am currently working on 'blame' -- how people go about blaming, how they conceal that blame is incipient, how we respond to blame and its social function.  I am particularly interested in how this works at public inquiries, where blame is not an explicit goal of the activity type.  How it is constructed, resisted and negotiated in this institutional setting can tell us a lot about the importance of culpability in our society. ​

My work mixes both quantitative and qualitative analyses and argues the merits of analysing global trends in a corpus, as well as the closer analysis of 'deviant' cases.  My theoretical approach might also be described as 'principled eclecticism' -- I seek to reconcile the disparate methodologies of speech act theory and conversation analysis to give a detailed account of spoken discourse.  I take a pragmatic approach to discourse analysis, applying advances in generalised conversational implicature theory and in the notions of the activity type to spoken data.

My Publications