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Dr Frances Rock


Dr Frances Rock Position: Reader Email:
Telephone: +44(0)29 208 70277
Extension: 70277
Location: John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cathays, Cardiff

Research Group

Centre for Language and Communication Research

I am also a member of Cardiff Language and law (CaLL) CaLL and an affiliate of the Sustainable Places Research Institute

New for 2015: We are offering an Advanced Research Residency in Language and Law

Postgraduate Students

I am interested in supervising PhD students in areas related to language and/in legal settings, particularly policing, language and workplaces and ecolinguistics. Work which draws on linguistic ethnography, literacies, interactional sociolinguistics and discourse analysis would be of interest along with work with an applied focus which aims to address real-world problems.  I have previously supervised work in areas as diverse as attitudes to accents and dialects, comprehension and comprehensibility of immigration documents, suicide negotiations, media representations of rights.

Students currently pursuing doctoral studies with me are:

Katy Brickley
Argyro Kantara
Jaspal Singh
Piotr Wegorowski
Marta Wilczek

Research Interests

Police language, forensic linguistics, workplace language, ecolinguistics and language and the environment, information design, document design, ‘difficult’ language, expert-lay communication, discourse, literacies, linguistic ethnography, interactional sociolinguistics, recontextualisation and textual travel.

Selected Publications

2013  ‘‘Every link in the chain’: The police interview as textual intersection’  In: Conley, J., Heffer, C. and Rock, F.  (eds.)  Legal-Lay Communication: Textual Travels in the Law  Oxford: Oxford University Press

2012 ‘‘You say ‘I’m sure’ but you’re not, are you?’: Trust and distrust in police interviews’  In: Candlin, C. and Crichton, J. (eds.)  Discourses of Trust Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

2007 Communicating rights: The language of arrest and detention. Palgrave: Basingstoke.

2006 ‘Looking the other way: Linguistic ethnography and forensic linguistics’ UK Linguistic Ethnography Forum papers.

2005 ‘“Sometimes you pinch stuff”: Communities of practice in an institutional setting’ In: Barton, D. and Tusting, K. (eds) Beyond communities of practice. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge ISBN 0521544920 77-104.

2001 ‘The genesis of a witness statement’ Forensic linguistics: the international journal of speech, language and the law 8, 2 ISSN 1350-1771 44-72.

2001 ‘Policy and practice in the anonymisation of linguistic data’ International journal of corpus linguistics 6, 1 ISSN 1384-6655 1-26. The anonymisation of linguistic data.




My work investigates the part that language plays in the mediation of experiences in the social world. This draws on close analysis of the written and spoken language which is created when people make meaning together and the ways in which that language is embedded in people’s actions and activities.

Custody cellMuch of my research has been dedicated to the investigation of language within legal settings. With a particular focus on the police I have examined texts, processes and practices through which information is passed between legal specialists and lay people, in both directions. This research has had various practical outcomes. For example, it contributed to the development of a new written text to explain rights to people in police custody and new procedures to accompany that text. This text and accompanying procedures are now in use in police stations throughout England and Wales. I have also collaborated with police officers in the redesign of a range of letters addressed to the public (witnesses, victims of crime and those complaining against the police). I have investigated interview techniques, particularly during witness interviewing and examined call-handling procedures during both emergency and non-emergency calls (see, for example,,, I am currently collaborating on projects with interpreters and police interview trainers, on interview openings, legal terminology and training around interpreted interviews both for interpreters and police.

With Amal Hallak, I am working on the AHRC-funded research project Translation and Translanguaging: Investigating Linguistic and Cultural Transformations in Superdiverse Wards in Four UK Cities.  This project, run by Angela Creese of Birmingham University’s MOSAIC Centre, is a collaboration between our team and the Universities of Birmingham, Leeds and Birkbeck, London. Within this project we will be examining communication in workplaces, cultural and heritage sites, legal advice and sports. We are currently recruiting local collaborators who speak both English and Arabic.

I have a growing interest in ecolinguistics and am involved with a collaboration with colleagues at the British Antactic Survey. This work examines representations of environmental issues relating to the Southern Ocean.
One of my current projects, FuzzyLaw, investigates lay people’s writing about legal terms. You can take part in FuzzyLaw either by submitting data as a participant (go to or by joining in discussion of submitted data (go to Please come along and join in!

My work uses a range of techniques, theoretical frameworks and concepts drawn from discourse analysis, social practices approaches to literacies, sociolinguistics, linguistic ethnography and interactional sociolinguistics.


I am a senior lecturer here in the Centre for Language and Communication Research which is part of the School of English, Communication and Philosophy. I came to work here directly from Roehampton University where I held a lectureship in Language and Linguistics for four years. I have also taught at the University of Birmingham and on the International Summer School in Forensic Linguistics. I have previously worked in industry, for the manufacturing company Northern Foods; as a Research Associate in Public Health and Epidemiology and in publishing posts for Trinity Publications and Robinswood Books. A one-time Cardiff undergraduate, I also hold an MA in Modern English Language from Lancaster University and a PhD in English from The University of Birmingham.

My Undergraduate- and Masters-level teaching experience includes such courses as: Forensic linguistics (at both MA and UG level); Ecolinguistics / language and the environment; Discourse; Qualitative research methods; Men, women and language; Introduction to Language and society; Research skills; Introduction to human communication; Language, society and power; Language change; and History of the English language.

For several years I was CLCR’s Undergraduate Admissions Tutor and also ran the CLCR Seminar Series for some time. I have served on the Executive Committee of the British Association of Applied Linguistics with particular responsibility for the administration of the BAAL/CUP Seminar Series and have served as Publicity Secretary of the International Association of Forensic Linguistics.

Frances is an Editor (with Professor Diana Eades, Professor Peter French and Dr Michael Jesson) of: Forensic linguistics: The international journal of speech, language and the law ISSN 1350 1771 2001-2006.