Professor Patrick Hanks

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  • Position:Senior Research Fellow : Family Names of the United Kingdom
  • Telephone:+4411732 86316

About me

I am a lexicographer, corpus linguist, and onomastician. I currently hold two research professorships: one at the Research Institute of Information and Language Processing in the University of Wolverhampton, the other at the Bristol Centre for Linguistics in the University of the West of England (UWE, Bristol). From 1990 to 2000 I was chief editor of current English dictionaries at Oxford University Press. In the 1980s I was project manager of the first edition of the Cobuild dictionary and chief editor of Collins English dictionaries.
My research interests are:
a) lexical analysis: mapping meaning onto phraseological patterns;
b) analysis of intentional lexical irregularities i.e. creative and innovative use of language;
c) similes, comparisons, and metaphors;
d) personal names: origin and history of family names; convention and creativity in name giving.
With colleagues based at UWE, I am currently working on an AHRC-funded database of all the family names in the UK (FaNUK), with information about their linguistic and social origins, history, and geographical distribution.

Quite separately, I have developed a procedure called Corpus Pattern Analysis (CPA), which is the foundation of The Pattern Dictionary of English Verbs (; work in progress). The basic principle is to explore the relationship between meanings and patterns of usage (words in context). Verb meanings are mapped onto phraseological patterns, rather than verbx in isolation. Associated with this is a theory of meaning in language called The Theory of Norms and Exploitations (TNE), the topic of a book published by MIT Press in January 2013. This work is the foundation of an AHRC-funded research project called DVC (Disambiguation of Verbs by Collocation), currently in work at the Research Institute of Information and Language Processing at the University of Wolverhampton.
I am writing a corpus-driven work on linguistic comparisons and similes, which (among other things) provides a new theory of the structure and function of figurative expressions.



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