James K. Puchowski

PhD Linguistics & English Language

  • Linguistics and English Language
  • School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

Contact details



2.17, Dugald Stewart Building
3 Charles Street
Bristo Square

Post code


My research in linguistics is interdisciplinary, and focuses on the activities of language activists and sociopolitical discourse about language (or 'metapragmatics/metalinguistics'). Currently, I am reading for my PhD on language activism and sociolinguistic discourse in Catalonia, Norway and Scotland.

The research methods I use are qualitative, discourse-oriented and theoretically critical. I engage mainly with ethnographic fieldwork, societal treatment studies and content analyses.

Apart from my studies on language activism, I have worked on language standardisation issues, the modern history of the Norwegian Nynorsk language, and the history of linguistics as a discipline. If you have questions about any of these topics or issues you would like me to answer, I'm happy to receive e-mails.

My PhD research funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland (https://www.carnegie-trust.org/). I was also lucky to be awarded the 2018 Robertson Medal for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences by the same body.


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2013-17: Master of Arts with Honours in Scandinavian Studies and Linguistics, University of Edinburgh

  • Dissertation title: 'Kjærleik til språk? A linguistic ethnographic study on Nynorsk language activism, attitudes and aesthetic tendencies'

2017-18: Master of Science by Research in Scandinavian Studies, University of Edinburgh

  • Dissertation title: 'The Language Youth: A Sociolinguistic and Ethnographic Study of Contemporary Norwegian Nynorsk Language Activism (2015-16, 2018)'

2018-present : Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics and English Language, University of Edinburgh

  • Project title: 'Language leagues, platforms and societies: a descriptive analysis of contemporary language activism in modern Catalonia, Norway and Scotland'

Responsibilities & affiliations

Tutor in Scandinavian Studies (2017-2020)

Tutor in Linguistics and English Language (2018-2020)

Dissertation supervisor [Moray House School of Education and Sport] (2020)

Dissertation supervisor [Linguistics and English Language] (2020)

Undergraduate teaching

Linguistics and English Language 1A

Linguistics and English Language 2E: Structure and History of European Languages

Nynorsk Language and Literature


Areas of interest for supervision

I also supervise MSc dissertations for students taking TESOL and Language Education degrees at the Moray House School of Education. I am able to assist students with qualitative and ethnographic research, and assist with studies which examine multilingualism or the role of minority languages alongside classroom English.

Current research interests

Linguistic ethnography, critical sociolinguistics, language activism, metapragmatics/metalinguistics, anthropological linguistics, Nynorsk, Scots, Catalan

Past research interests

Language standardisation, contemporary history of the Norwegian language, language planning and policy

Affiliated research centres

Current project grants

2018- : PhD scholarship (3 years), Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland

Past project grants

2017-2018: Arthur Kitchin Postgraduate Scholarship, School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, University of Edinburgh
2017-2018: Helen Philip Memorial Bursary, College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, University of Edinburgh

Invited speaker


'Skottland og Noreg - språkstoder i jamføring', Haustkonferanse (Norsk Målungdom, 03/10)


'Kva/hva har valfridomen/valgfriheten å seia/si/seie for språkhaldningar/språkholdninger?', Sumarleir (Norsk Målungdom, 07/07)


'Kva har nynorsk, katalansk og skotsk til felles? Kven er språkaktivistane? Korleis forskar me på dei?', Presentation to Noregs Mållag visiting group (University of Edinburgh, 11/06)

'Language activist studies and researcher positionality in sociolinguistic fieldwork', Language in Context (University of Edinburgh, 31/10)


'Scots on Scots - language about language', Scots/Gaelic event (University of Glasgow, 28/11)


'Språk i Skottland og skotske språkaktivistar', Haustkonferanse (Norsk Målungdom, 17/01)

‘'Fit Whit What Whut?' Shuid Scots spellin be standartised?’, Online roundtable with Pauline Cairns Speitel, Bruce Eunson, Matthew Fitt and Phil Reid (Oor Vyce, 30/11)


Organiser, Scots@ed 2020

Papers delivered


'Norwegian Nynorsk: from politics to pedagogy', Undergraduate Linguistics Association of Britain (York St. John University)


'Between hills and mountains: an introduction to Norwegian Nynorsk language activism', Undergraduate Linguistics Association of Britain (University of Aberdeen)


'It's only of marginal interest to the linguist... : why written language matters', Undergraduate Linguistics Association of Britain (University of Cambridge)

'Introducing the Language Youth - Ethnographic Methods and Nynorsk Language Activism', Nordic Research Showcase with Universities of Lund and Copenhagen (University of Edinburgh, 25/04)

'Talking to the 'language youth': polynomy in Nynorsk and activist language attitudes', Sprogvidenskabelig Studenterkonference (University of Copenhagen, 03/11)


'Nationalists no more? Highlights from ethnographic conversations with young Norwegian Nynorsk language activists', Borders and Bridges: Nordic Nationalisms and Transnationalisms (University of California at Berkeley, 10/03)

'English 'that's gone through some weird Google Translate': how do we (poorly) convince people Scots exists, decide which Scots is Scots (with much difficulty), and make the language question more (ir)relevant for everyone involved?', Undergraduate Linguistics Association of Britain (University of Edinburgh, 10/04)

'Politically organised people with a particular view on things: how can we study the relationship between language activism, linguistics, and folk linguistic ideas?', Linguistic Ethnography in a Changing World [British Association for Applied Linguistics] (University of Edinburgh, 21/09)


'Who are the activists anyway - and what do they want? Insights from contemporary Nynorsk, Scots and Catalan language activism', Symposium on Ideologies, Attitudes and Power in Language Contact Settings (University of Stockholm, 17/05)

'Who are the activists anyway - and what do they want? Understanding language activism as metapragmatic/metalinguistic discourse', Language Policy Forum [British Association for Applied Linguistics] (University of Edinburgh, 30/05)

'Who are the activists anyway - and what do they want? Understanding language activism as metapragmatic/metalinguistic discourse', Multidisciplinary Approaches in Language Policy and Planning (University of Toronto, 24/08)