Dr Fatma Said



I joined the department of Education in March 2015 to take up the post of Research Associate in Applied Linguistics. Before joining the department I completed my PhD (2015) at the Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication at Birkbeck, University of London. My doctoral research investigated the role multiple languages take during family mealtime interactions. I was interested in how speakers choose and use their languages for their own social goals and what their language use may reveal about the nature of language (thesis title: A sociolinguistic study of multilingual talk at mealtimes: The case of an Arab family in London). Before that I did my MA (2008) at Birkbeck in Applied Linguistics, and my thesis explored how bilinguals communicate particular aspects of their ethnic identity through their choice and exploitation of the symbolisms of their languages during interaction (mainly compliment giving). My BA was in Arabic and Linguistics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, University of London).

Before coming to York, I was a Sociolinguistic Research Assistant at King’s College, London; where I worked with a multidisciplinary team (medical communication teachers, students and another linguist) to develop a new way of teaching communication to medical school students and clinicians using principles of Conversation and Discourse Analysis.

Departmental roles

Currently, my role in this department consists mainly of research (with the head of department and other colleagues). I am also a supervisor for MA and PhD students and I also occasionally contribute to teaching in the department. Please note that for the 2018 period onwards I am not taking on new PhD students.

University roles

The other role I currently undertake is the University of York Research Staff Liaison Officer. My position is to work with various university departments (e.g. the Research Excellence Team and others) to enhance the experience of research staff at the university.



My research is primarily sociolinguistic in nature and focuses on how language affects the social lives of speakers, and in turn how the social lives of speakers’ affects and influences language and language use. Currently, my research also focuses on bilingual acquisition within the family domain with the aim of understanding why some children who grow up in a bilingual home do not become bilinguals. I work principally with naturally occurring data (multilingual), by observing (video recording) language use in everyday activities such as mealtimes, TV time, homework time and currently the language classroom (L2 and Heritage Language). My interest is in how all the above take place or develop over time longitudinally.

Employing a combination of frameworks and epistemologies, I interrogate aspects of language use such as: bilingual language development, family language policy, language socialisation, language ideology, identity, agency, and language maintenance. I am also interested in code-switching, the use and manipulation of address terms (especially when speakers have a choice of more than one form or system of address), and the role extra-linguistic aspects of conversation play in the accentuation of meaning during interaction.

I also have an interest in institutional language use (in healthcare and education), and the role language plays in the language-learning classroom (i.e., how students interact with one another, and with their teacher).

Research group(s)

External activities


  • Arabic International Studies
  • UK Linguistic Ethnography Forum (UK-LEF)
  • Arabic teachers (AA)
  • BAAL (British Association of Applied Linguistics)
  • Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquée (AILA)
  • Society for Language Development (SLD)


Contact details

Department of Education
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322088