Centre for European and International Studies Research


Photo of Professor Sue Wright

Professor Sue Wright

  • Qualifications: BA French and German (Trinity College Dublin), Doctorate (Aston University), PGCE (London University)
  • Role Title: Emeritus Professor of Language and Politics
  • Address: Park Building, King Henry 1 Street, Portsmouth PO1 2DZ
  • Telephone: 023 9284 6060
  • Email: sue.wright@port.ac.uk
  • Department: School of Languages and Area Studies
  • Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


Sue Wright has been Professor of Language and Politics at the University of Portsmouth since 2006. Her slightly unusual professorial title stems from her research in language policy from the 1980s onwards. Very early on it became clear to her that this work had to be interdisciplinary and that linguists who wanted to examine subjects such as the role of language in nation building, the problems associated with language rights for minority groups and issues of communication in globalisation needed a deep understanding of the political contexts. Her field work, which covered inter alia minority language debates in the south of France, problems of communication in the European parliament, language issues in migration, and transnational communication on the Internet, then revealed a further requirement for all such research - the need to address the fundamental question ‘what is language?’ In recent theoretical work she has begun to focus on the nature of language and show how a sophisticated understanding is essential for policy and planning in local, national, supranational and international settings.

Since retiring from her full time post in 2011 she has continued to mentor research at University of Portsmouth. She spent a semester as visiting professor at the University of Jyvaskyla in 2012. She is co-editor (with Ulrich Ammon and Jeroen Darquennes) of the journal, Sociolinguistica, co-editor (with Helen Kelly Holmes) of the Palgrave book series, Language and Globalisation and a member of the International Panel on Social Progress (ipsp.org).


Research Clusters

  • Language across Borders

Discipline Areas

  • Linguistics
  • Politics
  • History

In recent years my aim has been to draw the attention of political scientists to the nature of language. I have been able to do this in journal articles such as ‘The right to speak one’s own language: reflections on theory and practice’ (2007); ‘What is a language? Response to Philippe van Parijs’ (2015), in chapters in handbooks such asThe Cambridge Handbook of Language Policy (2012)The Palgrave Handbook of Economics and Language (2016); The Sage Handbook of International Migration (in press) and in work for the international panel on social progress.

Editing Sociolinguistica has given me the opportunity to draw groups together to explore key issues in language practice. Sociolinguistica 27 (2013) presents eleven different case studies of evolving language behaviour on the internet. Sociolinguistica 30 (2016) deals with issues of language standardisation and its accompanying problems.

In 2016 I finished a major reworking of my 2004 book, Language Policy and Language Planning: from nationalism to globalisation. The work has been translated into Arabic, Chinese, Croatian and Romanian.

In 2017 I am hoping to repeat the research on patterns of language use in the European Parliament that I carried out in 1996 and 2006. Such research would allow analysis of developments over three decades, provide useful longitudinal data and survey attitudes towards language issues at a particularly interesting juncture.


Research profile

Explore my research profile, publications and activities on the Portsmouth Research Portal

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