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Dr Caroline Tagg

Profile summary

Professional biography

I am a Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics with an interest in how social media constrains and enables different forms of communication. I began my current post at the Open University in October 2015. Prior to that, I was a lecturer at the University of Birmingham, where I gained my PhD with a thesis titled 'A corpus analysis of SMS text messaging'. I have an MA in Applied Linguistics and TESOL from Leicester University, and previously worked as a TESOL teacher in Spain and then in Vietnam with the British voluntary organisation, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO).

I am currently Secretary of the British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL) and Associate Editor of the international journal Discourse, Context & Media

Research interests

My research into language and digital technologies rests on the understanding that digital communication practices are deeply embedded into individuals’ wider social, economic and political lives. I have expertise in a range of research methods from corpus linguistics to linguistic ethnography, and in various analytical concepts including Appraisal theory, audience design, everyday creativity, heteroglossia and translanguaging. My contribution to understanding the impact of digital communication is fourfold.

  • Firstly, I have shown how linguistic analysis can challenge popular assumptions regarding the detrimental effect of digital communication on language and literacy, suggesting instead that non-standard spelling practices be seen as acts of performativity (The Discourse of Text Messaging, Continuum 2012).
  • Secondly, with Philip Seargeant and Amy Aisha Brown, I have explored how miscommunication on social media sites like Facebook can be understood as processes of context design, whereby users draw on their awareness of complex contextual factors in styling utterances for unseen audiences (Taking Offence on Social Media, Palgrave 2017). See our project website.
  • Thirdly, with Mel Evans, I am developing a distinctive transhistorical approach to the study of so-called new media which challenges claims to novelty by exploring continuities with earlier technology uses (Historicising the Digital, Mouton de Gruyter forthcoming).
  • Finally, drawing on my work as Co-I on the AHRC-funded research project ‘Translation and Translanguaging’ (PI: Angela Creese), I am addressing the complexities involved in understanding contemporary communicative practices with an approach to digital communication I call blended linguistic ethnography which combines online and offline data to explore how people use digital technology as a tool in their social and working lives.

My research throws up new imperatives and challenges for applied social research in the field of language and social media, and has implications for pedagogic interventions aimed at equipping children and adults with critical digital literacies for social interaction in the twenty-first century.

Research students interested in working in any area related to language and digital technology are encouraged to get in touch. I currently supervise two PhD students:

  • Shi Min Chua: Educators and learners’ roles in discussion activities on FutureLearn
  • Christina Lyrigkou: Incidental acquisition of English as a foreign language: the uptake of discourse markers and natural fillers through mobile assisted language use

I am convenor of the BAAL Special Interest Group in Language and New Media; and co-convenor of the Open University research group Applied Linguistics and Literacies within the Languages and Applied Linguistics research cluster.

Teaching interests

My teaching interests span a wide range of applied linguistics topics and areas of expertise. I am currently working on the Stage 3 Dissertation module (EE819) on our MA in Education (Applied Linguistics) programme. I have also been involved in developing a Level 1 undergraduate module (L101 Introducing English Language Studies) which introduces students to contemporary issues related to language, and the concepts needed to address them.

Impact and engagement

As a member of the Translation and Translanguaging team, I have written a number of working papers freely available on the project website.

  • Tagg, C. (2015) Language, business and superdiversity: a report on social media across case studies. TLANG Working Paper 6.
  • Tagg, C., Lyons, A., Hu, R., & Rock, F. (2016). The Ethics of Digital Ethnography in a Team Project. Working Paper 12.
  • Tagg, C., R. Hu, A. Lyons and J. Simpson (2016) Heritage and social media in superdiverse cities: personalised, networked and multimodal. TLANG Working Paper 17.
  • Tagg, C. and R. Hu (2017) Sharing as a conversational turn in digital interaction. TLANG Working Paper 29.
I have also written a number of posts for the project blog.
With Philip Seargeant, I have written articles in The Conversation and The Times Higher Education magazine on the implications of our research for recent debates around online filter bubbles and fake news.

The filter bubble isn’t just Facebook’s fault – it’s yours (The Conversation, 5th Dec 2016)

Fake news: the solution is education, not technology (THE, 29th Dec 2016)

The real reason you can’t quit Facebook? Maybe it’s because you can judge your friends (12th July 2017)

I have given various public talks, including one at the Library of Birmingham held as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Sciences November 2014, and another as part of the Church Inn's Music and a Lecture series, Jewellry Quarter, Birmingham.


[Book review] The Pragmatics of Text Messaging: Making Meaning in Messages, Michelle A. McSweeney, Routledge, New York (2018) (2020-01)
Tagg, Caroline
Journal of Pragmatics, 155 (pp. 346-348)

The discursive construction of mobile chronotopes in mobile phone messaging (2020)
Lyons, A. and Tagg, C.
Language in Society ((In Press))

The discursive construction of mobile chronotopes in mobile-phone messaging (2019-11)
Lyons, Agnieszka and Tagg, Caroline
Language in Society, 48(5) (pp. 657-683)

Social media and the future of open debate: a user-oriented approach to Facebook's filter bubble conundrum (2019-03-31)
Seargeant, Philip and Tagg, Caroline
Discourse, Context & Media, 27 (pp. 41-48)

The pragmatic use of vocatives in private one-to-one digital communication (2019)
Asprey, Esther and Tagg, Caroline
Internet Pragmatics, 2(1) (pp. 83-111)

Context design and critical language/media awareness: implications for a social digital literacies education (2019)
Tagg, Caroline and Seargeant, Philip
Linguistics and Education ((Early Access))

Chronotopic (non)modernity in translocal mobile messaging among Chinese migrants in the UK (2019)
Lyons, Agnieszka; Tagg, Caroline and Hu, Rachel
Internet Pragmatics ((Early Access))

Metonymy and Text Messaging: A Framework for Understanding Creative Uses of Metonymy (2018-08-01)
Littlemore, Jeannette and Tagg, Caroline
Applied Linguistics, 39(4) (pp. 481-507)

The ethics of digital ethnography in a team project (2017-06)
Tagg, Caroline; Lyons, Agnieszka; Hu, Rachel and Rock, Frances
Applied Linguistics Review, 8(2-3) (pp. 271-292)

Heteroglossia in text-messaging: performing identity and negotiating relationships in a digital space (2016-02)
Tagg, Caroline
Journal of Sociolinguistics, 20(1) (pp. 59-85)

Evaluative Language and Its Solidarity-Building Role on An Appraisal and Corpus Analysis (2015)
Drasovean, Anda and Tagg, Caroline
Language@Internet, 12, Article 1

Scraping the barrel with a shower of social misfits': everyday creativity in text messaging (2013-09)
Tagg, Caroline
Applied Linguistics, 34(4) (pp. 480-500)

Language choice and addressivity strategies in Thai-English social network interactions (2012-09)
Seargeant, Philip; Tagg, Caroline and Ngampramuan, Wipapan
Journal of Sociolinguistics, 16(4) (pp. 510-531)

"I didn’t spel that wrong did i. Oops": analysis and standardisation of SMS spelling variation (2012-06-01)
Tagg, Caroline; Baron, Alistair and Rayson, Paul
Lingvisticae Investigationes, 35(2) (pp. 367-388)

Writing systems at play in Thai-English online interactions (2012)
Tagg, Caroline and Seargeant, Philip
Writing Systems Research, 4(2) (pp. 195-213)

English on the internet and a ‘post-varieties’ approach to language (2011-12)
Seargeant, Philip and Tagg, Caroline
World Englishes, 30(4) (pp. 496-514)

Taking Offence on Social Media: Conviviality and Communication on Facebook (2017-08-30)
Tagg, Caroline; Seargeant, Philip and Brown, Amy Aisha
Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan

Exploring Digital Communication: language in action (2015-02-27)
Tagg, Caroline
ISBN : 978-0-415-52491-9 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

The Discourse of Text Messaging: Analysis of SMS communication (2012)
Tagg, Caroline
ISBN : 9781441174093 | Publisher : Continuum | Published : London

Critical digital literacy education in the ‘fake news’ era (2018-08)
Seargeant, Philip and Tagg, Caroline
In: Reedy, Katharine and Parker, Jo eds. Digital literacy unpacked
ISBN : 9781783301973 | Publisher : Facet

Using research vignettes to explore co-production in a large diverse team: implications for research in superdiverse contexts (2018-02-21)
Goodson, Lisa and Tagg, Caroline
In: Creese, Angela and Blackledge, Adrian eds. The Routledge Handbook of Language and Superdiversity. Routledge Handbooks (pp. 103-117)
Publisher : Routledge

Mobile messaging by migrant micro-entrepreneurs in contexts of superdiversity (2018-02-21)
Tagg, Caroline and Lyons, Agnieszka
In: Creese, Angela and Blackledge, Adrian eds. The Routledge Handbook of Language and Superdiversity. Routledge Handbooks (pp. 312-328)
Publisher : Routledge

Critical digital literacy education in the ‘fake news’ era (2018)
Seargeant, Philip and Tagg, Caroline
In: Reedy, Katharine and Parker, Jo eds. Digital literacy unpacked
ISBN : 9781783301997 | Publisher : Facet

Negotiating social roles in semi-public online contexts (2016-12-08)
Tagg, Caroline and Seargeant, Philip
In: Leppänen, Sirpa; Westinen, Elina and Kytölä, Samu eds. Social Media Discourse, (Dis)identifications and Diversities. Routledge Studies in Sociolinguistics (13) (pp. 211-234)
ISBN : 978-1-138-65141-8 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

Facebook and the discursive construction of the social network (2015-07-27)
Tagg, Caroline and Seargeant, Philip
In: Georgakopoulou, Alexandra and Spilioti, Tereza eds. The Routledge Handbook of Language and Digital Communication (pp. 339-353)
ISBN : 9780415642491 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

Audience design and language choice in the construction and maintenance of translocal communities on social network sites (2014-02-18)
Tagg, Caroline and Seargeant, Philip
In: Seargeant, Philip and Tagg, Caroline eds. The Language of Social Media: Identity and Community on the Internet (pp. 161-185)
ISBN : 9781137029300 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : Basingstoke

Introduction: The language of social media (2014-02)
Seargeant, Philip and Tagg, Caroline
In: Seargeant, Philip and Tagg, Caroline eds. The Language of Social Media: Identity and Community on the Internet (pp. 1-19)
ISBN : 9781137029300 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : Basingstoke

Texting and corpora (2012-04-19)
Tagg, Caroline
In: Hyland, Ken; Huat, Chau Meng and Handford, Michael eds. Corpus Applications in Applied Linguistics (pp. 150-165)
ISBN : 9781441107800 | Publisher : Continuum | Published : London

Wot did he say or could u not c him 4 dust? Written and spoken creativity in text messaging (2011)
Tagg, Caroline
In: Ho, Caroline M. L.; Anderson, Kate T. and Leong, Alvin P. eds. Transforming Literacies and Language: Multimodality and Literacy in the New Media Age (pp. 223-236)
ISBN : 9781441123916 | Publisher : Continuum | Published : London

Corpus-based analysis of SMS text messaging (2007)
Tagg, Caroline
In: Teo, Peter and Ho, Caroline Mei Lin eds. Discourse in the Modern World: perspectives and challenges (pp. 267-284)
ISBN : 9780071264921 | Publisher : McGraw-Hill Education | Published : Singapore

Messaging and Medium: English Language Practices Across Old and New Media (2020-05-18)
Tagg, Caroline and Evans, Mel
Tagg, Caroline and Evans, Mel eds.
Topics in English linguistics
ISBN : 978-3-11-062039-9 | Publisher : De Gruyter Mouton | Published : Berlin

The Language of Social Media: Identity and Community on the Internet (2014-02)
Seargeant, Philip and Tagg, Caroline eds.
ISBN : 978-1-137-02930-0 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : Basingstoke

The Politics of English Conflict, Competition, Co-existence (2012-05-10)
Hewings, Ann and Tagg, Caroline eds.
Worlds of English
ISBN : 978-0-415-67424-9 | Publisher : Routledge in association with the Open University | Published : Abingdon

Discussion Analytics: Identifying Conversations and Social Learners in FutureLearn MOOCs (2017-03)
Chua, Shi-Min; Tagg, Caroline; Sharples, Mike and Rienties, Bart
In : FutureLearn data: what we currently have, what we are learning and how it is demonstrating learning in MOOCs (13-17 Mar 2017, Vancouver) (pp. 36-62)