#LoveIrishResearch researcher spotlight: Chris Mulhall


"I did a BA and MBS at Waterford Institute of Technology and then completed my PhD at University College Dublin."

A curiosity around dictionaries during his undergraduate studies at WIT led to lecturer Chris Mulhall's ongoing lexicography and dictionary research

Dr Chris Mulhall, Lecturer in French in the Department of Languages, Tourism and Hospitality in the School of Humanities

Hometown I grew up in Athy, Co. Kildare and went to secondary school in Scoil Eoin in Athy.

Funding In the past two years, I have had Royal Irish Academy and Irish Research Council Funding for different projects. At the beginning of 2016, I was awarded the Warren N. Cordell Fellowship for visiting researchers in Lexicography at Indiana State University. I am currently a management committee member of a four year funded EU Cost Action on E-Lexicography which ends in October 2017, so I will take on another funded project in a year or so (hopefully!)

I am working on (a) the treatment of phrasal entries in dictionaries in bilingual dictionaries and (b) the construction of socio-cultural identities through the language of dictionaries

In layman’s terms that is…. (a) trying to find out where dictionaries locate phrases, for example, is to kick the bucket under the entry to kick or [under the entry] bucket and the motivating reason certain dictionaries choose one element or the other (b) combining pieces of a dictionary’s use of language to see if it builds a particular identity of a society or culture

Career path I did a BA and MBS at Waterford Institute of Technology and then completed my PhD at University College Dublin. I was curious about dictionaries from my undergraduate studies and that transferred into a PhD, which I finished in 2009. Since then all my projects and publications have been based around dictionaries.

My research day It varies a lot. I am working on a few publications at the moment, so at the moment I am doing a lot of writing. It’s nothing too glamourous apart from sitting in a library or a room and writing. Obviously there are stages of data collection and wider reading. I am doing some work on a smaller project on phraseology at the moment that is involving a little more consultation with language learners and I find that interesting. You will always learn something from somebody so it’s good to sit down to chat to language learners about their knowledge phrases and how they use dictionaries to find the phrases they want.

Why WIT I’ve been in Waterford almost 20 years since I started my undergraduate studies here. When I started the Institute was quite small but its growth has been positive in lots of ways and I am sure that growth will continue into the future which will be good for all. Since my kids, Anna and Cian, were born in recent years, one aspect I appreciate is calmness of life in Waterford, the lovely beaches and the accessibility to great resources all across the city.

I #LoveIrishResearch because it’s ambitious, competitive and engaging. Irish research is well respected globally and has a growing reputation. It’s an exciting time to be a researcher and there are plenty of funding opportunities available to all different levels of research and researcher. The quality of output is always getting better and that can only be good for us all.

Now and then I was heavily involved in sports from a young age and liked the idea of being a professional athlete. I always liked journalism as well. I ended up working with words in the end only in a different way.

A world of research Research has given me some many opportunities to travel. In the last three years, I have been on 12 research trips in nine countries. I have learned immensely from working with different academics and researchers, but also experiencing different working cultures gave me insight into what works and doesn’t work and I try to integrate that knowledge into making myself better. I am in Lisbon, Portugal, during our mid-semester break in the first semester working with some EU COST Action colleagues in a newly-formed research group, LandLex, which produces research examining the phraseological patterns across languages in their description of elements of the Landscape.

Making a difference As part of the EU COST Action programme on E-Lexicography we are working on improving dictionaries for users and also support lexicography on minority languages. Personally, I always try to integrate as much of my research as I can into my teaching that helps me test the ongoing relevance of what I do or point me towards potentially new topics that have a growing interest.

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Bachelor of Arts in  Arts (Hons)

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