UCL English


Dr Kathryn Allan


Email: kathryn.allan@ucl.ac.uk
External phone: 020 7679 7653
Internal phone: 37653
Office: Foster Court 136

Kathryn Allan photo

Education and Experience

Kathryn Allan joined UCL in 2008 and is an Associate Professor in the History of English. She completed her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in the English Language department at the University of Glasgow, where she also worked for several years as a part-time research assistant on the Historical Thesaurus of English, published on paper as the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary; she is now a member of the Advisory Board to the project. From 2004–2008 she was a lecturer at the University of Salford, where she was Programme Leader for the BA in English Language and Linguistics, and she has also taught at universities including Oxford and (through Erasmus) Zurich. Kathryn is currently a member of Council of the Philological Society, and an Affiliate of the Angus McIntosh Centre for Historical Linguistics.


Kathryn’s main research interests are in historical and cognitive semantics and lexicology. She is particularly interested in the intra- and extra-linguistic factors in semantic change, and in tracing polysemy in relation to social-cultural change; her monograph Metaphor and Metonymy: A Diachronic Approach, which uses data from the Historical Thesaurus of English, explores the motivation for metaphor and metonymy in the semantic field intelligence. She focuses on more recent shifts in lexical meaning in her work with the Keywords Project, a collaborative research project which builds on Raymond Williams' work in exploring social/cultural 'keywords’, and she was a contributor to the volume Keywords for Today: A 21st Century Vocabulary and the editor of a Critical Quarterly Special Issue, Keywords for Today: Reactions, Reflections, Futures.

Much of Kathryn’s research uses the Oxford English Dictionary as a starting point. Her interest in methodological issues led to the volume Current Methods in Historical Semantics, co-edited with Justyna Robinson and published with Mouton de Gruyter in the Topics in English Linguistics series, and to Historical Cognitive Linguistics, published in Mouton’s Cognitive Linguistics Research series and co-edited with Margaret Winters and Heli Tissari.  She collaborated with the late Christian Kay on the textbook English Historical Semantics, published in 2015 by Edinburgh University Press, and is currently co-editing the Oxford Handbook of Historical Semantics for Oxford University Press with Justyna Robinson

Kathryn is particularly interested in supervising PhDs in the area of historical lexicology, lexical semantics and cognitive semantics.

Selected Publications

Forthcoming 2021. ‘Metaphor, metonymy and polysemy: A historical perspective’. In A. Soares da Silva (ed.) Figures: Intersubjectivity and Usage. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

• 2019. Introduction. Critical Quarterly 61:3. Keywords for Today: Reflections, Reactions, Futures, 4-9.

• 2019. With Alan Durant. ‘Environment’. In Critical Quarterly 61:3. Keywords for Today: Reflections, Reactions, Futures, 67-84.

• 2018. Keywords Project. Keywords for Today: A 21st Century Vocabulary. Eds. C. MacCabe & H. Yanacek. Oxford: OUP.

• 2018. ‘Enough: A Lexical-Semantic Approach’. In Matthew Ingleby and Samuel Randalls (eds.), Just Enough: The History, Culture and Politics of Sufficiency, 13-25. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

• 2016. With Philip Durkin. ‘Borrowing and copy.’ In A. Auer, V. González-Diáz, J. Hodson & V. Sotirova (eds.) Linguistics and Literary History: In Honour of Sylvia Adamson, 71-86. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

• 2016. With Christian Kay. ‘Change in the English Lexicon.’ In Merja Kytō and Paivi Pahta (eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of English Historical Linguistics, 220-236. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

• 2015.  With Christian Kay. English Historical Semantics. Edinburgh Textbooks on the English Language - Advanced.  Edinburgh:  Edinburgh University Press.

• 2015. ‘Education in the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary: exploring diachronic change in a semantic field.’ In J. Daems, E. Zenner, K. Heylen, D. Speelman & H. Cuyckens (eds.) Change of Paradigms – New Paradoxes, 81-96. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

• 2015. ‘Lost in Transmission?  The sense development of borrowed metaphor.’  In J. Diaz Vera (ed.) Metaphor and Metonymy Through Time and Cultures, 31-50. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

• 2014. ‘An inquest into metaphor death:  exploring the loss of literal senses of conceptual metaphors.’ Cognitive Semiotics 5(1-2), 291-311.

• 2012. ‘Using OED data as evidence’. In Allan, K. & J. Robinson (eds.) Current Methods in Historical Semantics, 17-39. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

• 2010. ‘Tracing metonymic polysemy through time: MATERIAL FOR OBJECT mappings in the OED’. In Winters. M., H. Tissari & K. Allan (eds.) Historical Cognitive Linguistics: Syntax and Semantics, 163-196. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

• 2009. Metaphor and Metonymy: A Diachronic Approach. (Publications of the Philological Society 42). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

• 2007. ‘Excellence: a new keyword for education?’, Critical Quarterly 49.1: 54-78.

• 2006. ‘Glossary’. (141 pp.) Co-author Dr Philip Durkin, Oxford English Dictionary. In Brown, E.K. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd edition, vol. 14. Oxford: Elsevier.

• 2006. ‘On groutnolls and nog-heads: a case study of the interaction between culture and cognition in intelligence metaphors’. In Stefanowitsch, A. & S. Grondelaers (eds.) Corpora in Cognitive Linguistics. Vol. 1: Metaphor and Metonymy, 175-190. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.