Natalie Braber

Natalie Braber

Associate Professor

School of Arts & Humanities

Staff Group(s)
English, Culture and Media

Role

Dr Braber teaches in the School of Arts and Humanities within the subject area of Linguistics. Her teaching responsibilities are mainly in the area of sociolinguistics, child language acquisition and psycholinguistics. She is Programme Leader for the Linguistics MA (by research). Dr Braber also supervises PhD students on a variety of topics.

Research areas

Dr Braber is a member of the Centre for Inequality, Culture and Difference.

Her main interests are in the fields of sociolinguistics and language variation. These subject areas can be divided into more specific research interests, for example:

  • Accents and dialects
  • Language and identity
  • ‘Pit Talk’ – language of East Midlands coal miners
  • Perceptual Dialectology
  • Forensic Voices

Dr Braber is currently working on several projects relating to these research interests. She is involved with projects examining language variation in the East Midlands, a highly under-researched subject. With the aid of several grants, Dr Braber is collecting data from around the East Midlands, examining language variation and studying the perception of variation within the area. Some of this work has shown that language varieties of the East Midlands are not easily recognisable.

Her research includes work on 'pit talk' in the region. This variety of language, used by coal miners, is now disappearing following the closure of the last mine in 2015 and this language needs to be preserved for future generations. Working with mining heritage groups, this research incorporates poetry, creative writing, art and music to involve participation in this preservation.

Current projects involve collaboration with Psychology and Law to examine earwitness testimony. In cases where witnesses hear a perpetrator’s voice, but do not clearly see their face, they may be required to provide voice identification evidence at criminal trials. Voice identification evidence is error-prone, but can be decisive in court. Our current work investigates both the ability of lay speakers to describe voices, and methods of improving the quality and accuracy of such descriptions.

Previous projects have involved examining the ways language and identity are constructed by speakers through syntactic structures, lexical choice and the use of particular phonological features, using Glasgow as a case study. Also, the expression of emotion in language and the relationship between them was studied through the investigation of linguistic features (such as modal particles and tags) in German and Dutch. Research has also included the examination of language impairment following stroke, that of aphasia and its effect on language production. Opportunities to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil/PhD exist and further information may be obtained from the NTU Doctoral School.

Current and previous project supervised include:

  • Gabriele Paleari, Other Italies: fragility, vitality and interconnectedness of indigenous Italian cultures in the Italian Grisons, Croatia,Slovenia and Montenegro (completed 2017)
  • Heather Hawins, Recovering the rural: Form and dialect in the poetry of Thomas Hardy (completed 2018)
  • Jens Roeser, Planning scope in written sentence production (completed 2018), VC Bursary
  • Suzy Harrison, The future of intangible cultural heritage in England: Challenges and opportunities (started in 2014), M3C Bursary
  • Tara Coltman-Patel, Weight stigmas in Britain: The linguistic representation of obesity in the British press (started in 2016), M3C Bursary
  • Peter Lee, Dialect and sociolinguistic variation of Traveller English in the East Midlands (started in 2017), VC Bursary
  • Lydia English, Understanding the pragmatic, semantic and discourse deficits in patients with Pick’s disease (started in 2017)

External activity

  • Former external Examiner at the University of Hertfordshire.
  • Invitations as validator of period programme review and new BA programmes at UK Universities.
  • Appearances on radio and television as linguistics expert.
  • Invitations to review books for international journals and review grant applications for AHRC and ESRC.
  • Invitations to speak at local, national and international events.
  • Presentations at national and international conferences.
  • Advisor on British Library's project 'Voices of the UK', funded by Leverhulme.
  • Organiser of the Northern Englishes Workshop in 2012 and 'What's Nott to like' (with Stuart Burch) in 2013.

Sponsors and collaborators

Dr Braber is actively involved in applying for grants and funding to assist in her research. Recent research funding has included:

  • A British Academy funded project (2011-12) for £7,490 with Dr Diane Davies (University of Leicester) entitled 'An investigation into dialect through oral history: The East Midlands' which examined recordings from the East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA) and compared these to more recent recordings to examine language change in the region. Some results can be found on the website
  • Recent funding in 2014 has also been awarded by the British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL) to allow for the engagement of students and community groups in Linguistic Research to chart language in the East Midlands. This commitment to engaging students in research, and encouraging community groups to become involved in academic work is paralleled in other projects.
  • Nottingham Trent University awards SPUR grants (Supporting Projects for Undergraduate Students) to encourage students to become involved with cutting edge research. Dr Braber has so far had four successful projects over previous years.
    o 2010 – 'A Perceptual Approach to Accents in the East Midlands' (with Danielle Wood-Wallace and Jaime-Leigh Birch) to examine local school students' perceptions of language in the East Midlands.
    o 2012 – 'Performing Scottish Identity on Screen: Language, Identity, and Humour in Scottish Television Comedy at the BBC' in collaboration with Gary Needham (with Ben Thornhill and Esme Ireson) to examine how Scottish identity is represented in BBC Scottish comedy programmes.
    o 2013 – 'Capturing 'Pit Talk' in the East Midlands: Preserving a Disappearing Language' (with Chris Dann and Alice Cope) to capture and preserve language of coal miners in the East Midlands.
    o 2014 – 'Language and Ethnicity in the East Midlands' (with James Pell and Abigail Sutton) to examine how ethnicity affects language use in the East Midlands.
  • Internal funding from NTU has allowed analysis to be carried out on data collected around the East Midlands. Projects have involved work with Danielle Wood-Wallace, Jennifer Beard and Nicholas Flynn to further work on language variation in the East Midlands.
  • Dr Braber is co-investigator and member of 'Centre for Hidden Histories'. This Centre is one of five World War One Engagement Centres, established by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to engage with and support communities as they seek to commemorate and reflect upon the century-long legacy of the First World War. Staffed by a consortium of academics from the universities of Nottingham, Derby and Nottingham Trent, the Centre for Hidden Histories has a particular interest in the themes of migration and displacement, the experience of 'others' from countries and regions within Europe, Asia and the Commonwealth, the impact and subsequent legacies of the war on diverse communities within Britain, remembrance and commemoration, and identity and faith. View more information.

Dr Braber is actively involved in applying for grants and funding to assist in her research. Recent research funding has included:

2017

  • ‘Dot Hills: a celebration of coal mining language and heritage in the East Midlands’ (Heritage Lottery Fund, £19,200)#
  • ‘Developing a procedure for eliciting accurate, detailed, and consistent forensic voice descriptions from lay witnesses’. (British Academy Small Grant, £9,722)
  • Extension to the Hidden Histories project (AHRC, total £85,098)
  • ‘Pits, props and prose: A literary celebration of the East Midlands Coalfield’ (Global Heritage Seedcorn Fund, NTU)
  • ‘Methods of assessing the accuracy of accent judgements by lay listeners’ (Safety and Security Funding, NTU, £13,282)

2016

  • Extension to the Hidden Histories Project (ARHC, total £88,148)
  • ‘Language and identity in law and evidence’ (British Association of Applied Linguistics, £1,500).

2015/2016

  • ‘Pit Talk: Recording and conserving an endangered community language’ (British Academy Small Grant, £9,808).
  • ‘Hidden Strangers’ (AHRC ‘Centre for Hidden Histories’ project, £9,988) collaboration with a youth theatre group in Chesterfield to examine how Germans were treated in the UK at the outbreak of the First World War.
  • ‘Germans in Nottingham’ (AHRC ‘Centre for Hidden Histories’ project, £8,000) collaboration with 3 secondary schools around Nottingham to carry out research.
  • ‘Coal Controversies’ (AHRC ‘Centre for Hidden Histories’ project, £8,909) collaboration with local history groups to examine internment of German miners in Haworth.
  • ‘Language and Identity in Law and Evidence’ (British Association of Applied Linguistics, £1,390). Funding for a BAAL/Routledge workshop held at Nottingham Trent University.

2014

  • ‘Centre for Hidden Histories’. I am a co-investigator on the AHRC-funded ‘Centre for Hidden Histories’ (overall grant is £655,373, my allocation is £12,755) which forms part of the AHRC World War One community heritage centres. The main aim of this project is to engage with communities previously alienated from WW1 commemoration to bring their community histories to attention through academic and community research projects. This project runs to the end of 2017.
  • ‘Charting the East Midlands: Engaging the Community in Heritage and Language Projects’ (British Association of Applied Linguistics, £2,000 as part of their ‘Applying Linguistics’ Fund).

Nottingham Trent University awards SPUR grants (Supporting Projects for Undergraduate Students) to encourage students to become involved with cutting edge research. Dr Braber has so far had four successful projects over previous years.

  • 2010 – 'A Perceptual Approach to Accents in the East Midlands' (with Danielle Wood-Wallace and Jaime-Leigh Birch) to examine local school students' perceptions of language in the East Midlands.
  • 2012 – 'Performing Scottish Identity on Screen: Language, Identity, and Humour in Scottish Television Comedy at the BBC' in collaboration with Gary Needham (with Ben Thornhill and Esme Ireson) to examine how Scottish identity is represented in BBC Scottish comedy programmes.
  • 2013 – 'Capturing 'Pit Talk' in the East Midlands: Preserving a Disappearing Language' (with Chris Dann and Alice Cope) to capture and preserve language of coal miners in the East Midlands.
  • 2014 – 'Language and Ethnicity in the East Midlands' (with James Pell and Abigail Sutton) to examine how ethnicity affects language use in the East Midlands.
  • 2017 – ‘Brexit may not mean Brexit: a corpus linguistic study of the litigation in Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union’ (with Roxie Ablett and Selena Leung).
  • 2018 – Bringing coal to the digital age: Increasing engagement with intangible heritage.

Internal funding from NTU has allowed analysis to be carried out on data collected around the East Midlands. Projects have involved work with Danielle Wood-Wallace, Jennifer Beard, David Amos and Nicholas Flynn to further work on language variation in the East Midlands. Dr Braber has also received funding for graduate interns who have worked on projects related to pit talk and forensic voices.

Publications

  • Natalie Braber and Jonnie Robinson (2018) East Midlands English. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Natalie Braber and Sandra Jansen (Eds.) (2018) Sociolinguistics in England. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Natalie Braber (2018) Pit Talk in the East Midlands. In: N. Braber and S. Jansen (eds.) Sociolinguistics in England. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 243-274.
  • Natalie Braber (2018) Performing identity on screen: Language, identity, and humour in Scottish television comedy. In: R. Bassiouney (ed.) Dialect and identity performance. London: Routledge, 265-285.
  • Natalie Braber, Suzy Harrison and Claire Ashmore (2017) Pit Talk in the East Midlands. Sheffield: Bradwell Books.
  • Natalie Braber and David Amos (2017) Images of the Coalfields. Sheffield: Bradwell Books.
  • Natalie Braber and Diane Davies (2016) Using and creating oral history in dialect research. Oral History 44(1), 98-107.
  • Natalie Braber (2016) Dialect perception and identification in Nottingham. In: J. Cramer and C. Montgomery (eds.) Cityscapes and Perceptual Dialectology: Global Perspectives on Non-Linguists’ Knowledge of the Dialect Landscape. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 209-231.
  • Natalie Braber; Louise Cummings and Liz Morrish (Eds.) (2015) Exploring Language and Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Natalie Braber (2015) Nottinghamshire Dialect. Sheffield: Bradwell Books.
  • Natalie Braber (2015) Sociolinguistics. In: N. Braber; L. Cummings and L. Morrish (eds.) Introduction to Language and Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 274-298.
  • Natalie Braber & Nicholas Flynn (2015) ‘The East Midlands: Nottingham’. In R. Hickey (ed.) Researching Northern Englishes. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 369-392.
  • Natalie Braber (2015) Language perception in the East Midlands. English Today 31(1), 16-26.
  • Natalie Braber (2014). The concept of identity in the East Midlands of England. English Today 30(2), 3-10.
  • Natalie Braber (2014) Representation of domestic violence in two British newspapers, The Guardian and The Sun, 2009-2011. English Language Research 1, 86-104.

See all of Natalie Braber's publications...

Press expertise

Dr Braber undertakes interviews with both national and regional radio and television stations on the topic of language and linguistics.

She can offer comment on aphasia; accents and dialects; language and emotion; language and identity; and language in the East Midlands.