Researcher biography

As a Professor of Linguistics, Michael Haugh researches pragmatics - the analysis of the role of language in social interaction - with a focus on analysing face, (im)politeness, teasing and humour, indirectness, and intention. He works with recordings and transcriptions of naturally occuring spoken interactions, as well as data from digitally-mediated forms of communication across a number of languages. It’s within this research of digital spaces that Haugh has investigated manifestations of pragmatics in these areas that are unique to online spaces, and how they have developed. 

At the 2020 webinar forum What can the humanities tell us about COVID-19?, Haugh and Martin Schweinberger explored different phases in responses to the Covid-19 situation in Australia.

For this project, Haugh and Schweinberger used a text-mining approach to ascertain different phases in responses to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation amongst Australian Twitter users. Haugh and Schweinberger analysed the data through a linguistic lens to find what topics characterize these phases, and if there were shifts in the kinds of stances taken over time during the unfolding of the COVID-19 situation. It’s projects such as these that illuminate Haugh’s interest in the ways in which pragmatic phenomena have their distinct local flavours, both across and within languages and cultures. 

One key issue of interest in pragmatics is the question of how participants figure out what it is they are doing, and how their relationships with others are constituted or construed via different forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC). More broadly, we have the question of what this talk, accomplished in this way, means for those participants, and what this talk is taken to be doing from an emic-insider perspective. One area that has seen an increasing amount of work in studies of relational aspects of CMC is the way in which it is used as a means of sharing troubles and eliciting various expressions of empathy or sympathy, as well as seeking and giving advice about such troubles. - Participation in Public and Social Media Interactions (edited by Marta Dynel, and Jan Chovanec, 2015.)

It’s here that Haugh is interested in the emerging importance of language corpora - a collection of texts to be analysed, and the tool for performing that analysis - can play in pragmatics and linguistics more broadly, utilising a range of sources including Twitter, message boards, and more in his research. In a 2016 lecture at the GAL Research School for Methods in Empirical Pragmatics (Bonn, Germany), Haugh spoke on some of the methodological aspects utilised in his research. It’s with this in mind that he has been involved in the establishment of the Australian National Corpus, a discovery service that collated and provided access to assorted examples of Australian English text, transcriptions, audio, and audio-visual materials, and is interested in further developing methods in corpus pragmatics. Then, a greater understanding of how context shapes online interactions can be obtained.

More recently he has co-led the establishment of the Language Technology and Data Analysis Lab (LADAL) at UQ with Dr Martin Schweinberger, as well as leading the Language Data Commons of Australia (LDaCA) initiative. He is currently leading two national collaborative research infrastructure projects co-funded by ARDC: the Australian Text Analytics Platform (ATAP) project ($1,339,000, 2021-2023, UQ in collaboration with AARNet and University of Sydney), and the Language Data Commons of Australia (LDaCA) Data Partnerships project ($856,000, 2021-2023, UQ in collaboration with AIATSIS, ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, ANU, Monash University and University of Melbourne).