The University of Sheffield
School of English

Professor Joan C. Beal

BA(Hons) Newcastle University
Ph.D Newcastle University

email :

Photograph of Joan Beal


I am Professor of English Language.

I was previously at Newcastle University, where I was a lecturer in English Language from 1977 to 1999 and then senior lecturer from 1999 to 2001, when I left to take up my post in Sheffield.

I am one of the co-editors of the Edinburgh University Press Dialects of English series and a member of the AHRC Peer Review College. I have also served on AHRC review panels.


My research interests are in two areas: the history of English in the Late Modern period (1700-1945) and dialect and identity in North of England, but I often work on the interface between them.

My PhD, subsequently published in 1999 as English Pronunciation in the Eighteenth Century: Thomas Spence's 'Grand Repository of the English Language' (Oxford: Clarendon Press) was concerned with a pronouncing dictionary written by the Newcastle-born radical, Thomas Spence in 1775. This led me to consider the relationship between linguistic thought and radical politics in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as the nature of linguistic change in the Later Modern period. It also sparked an interest in the nature of prescriptivism and the continuities and contrasts between prescriptive texts of the 18th century and those of the present day.

Having spent all my career in the North of England, I have a long-standing interest in the dialects of this region. I contributed the chapters on the phonology and morphosyntax of northern English dialects to the multi-volume publication Varieties of English. I have just completed (with Lourdes Burbano and Carmen Llamas) a book on the dialects of the North-east of England, which will be published in 2012 by Edinburgh University Press.

I was a co-investigator on the AHRC-funded Newcastle Electronic Corpus of Tyneside English (NECTE) project. The end product of this project is a website incorporating a major corpus of Tyneside English speech with orthographic and phonetic transcriptions, tagging and sound-files.

The Newcastle Electronic Corpus of Tyneside English

This has led to an interest in constructing linguistic corpora and I am currently exploring the possibility of creating a corpus or database of 18th-century English phonology.


I have supervised a number of successfully completed PhD theses in a wide range of topics in the areas of sociolinguistics, dialectology and the history of English.  These include:

I welcome further applications from students wishing to pursue research in these areas.

Selected Publications



Journal Articles