Prof Thora Tenbrink

Professor in Linguistics


Contact info

Thora Tenbrink is Director of Research for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Business



Phone: +44 (0)1248 38 2263


Room 306, 39 College Road,

Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2DG, UK

Contact Info

Thora Tenbrink is Director of Research for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Business



Phone: +44 (0)1248 38 2263


Room 306, 39 College Road,

Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2DG, UK


I joined Bangor University in September 2012 after having spent ten years as a research scientist at the Faculty of Linguistics at the University of Bremen, Germany. During this time I completed my PhD thesis, which was published in 2007 as the monograph "Space, Time, and the Use of Language" by Mouton de Gruyter. My most recent monograph is "Cognitive Discourse Analysis: An Introduction" (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

I furthermore edited a Special Issue on "The Language of Space and Time" in the Journal of Pragmatics (2011), and co-edited "Spatial Language and Dialogue" (Oxford University Press, 2009), "Representing Space in Cognition" (Oxford University Press, 2013), and "Spatial Information Theory11th International Conference, COSIT 2013" (Springer).

I was principal investigator in two recently concluded projects in the Collaborative Research Center SFB/TR 8 Spatial Cognition (Bremen/Freiburg, Germany). I have always enjoyed interdisciplinary and international collaboration, typically within areas of cognitive science, and am currently working with cognitive psychologists at Tufts University (Boston), UCL London, and the ETH Zurich. At Bangor, I am a member of the MPC Network for the Study of Media and Persuasive Communication.

In the School of Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics I currently have four functions – researcher, lecturer, director of undergraduate studies in Linguistics and English Language, and ethics and compliance officer. In addition I am Director of Ethics in the College of Arts, Humanities and Business. Contact me about any of these roles, for instance if you are wondering about the linguistic modules we offer, or how to do empirical studies and get ethics approval.


I'm interested in how we use language, and what this tells us about our thoughts (concepts and thought processes). For this purpose I developed an empirical method, Cognitive Discourse Analysis (CODA: Tenbrink, 2015, and 2020, Cambridge University Press). Typically this means giving speakers a particular task to do in which they express their thoughts in some way, and record what they say in response. The linguistic data are then analysed by looking in detail at how language is used to express thoughts. Insights can be related to previous research on how language relates to thought - for example from theoretical cognitive linguistics or other related fields.

Much of my research has focused on how we understand and talk about our spatial environments, for instance when we try to find our way to a destination, or explain how to find an office in a complex building. Other projects deal with complex problem solving processes such as object assembly, origami paper folding, and analogical reasoning, with the relationship between linguistic features and misinformation, and with the transfer of cognitive linguistic patterns in second language acquisition. More theoretical work concerns spatiotemporal reference frames and linguistic ontologies, representing the conceptual repertory available to speakers as reflected in language. 

For more information, please consult my website,

Teaching and Supervision

I have taught modules across many areas of Linguistics as well as some in Cognitive Science. 

Within Linguistics, my main current teaching focus is related to methodology, in particular concerning the use of language but also spanning other fields. This comprises Functions of Discourse (which introduces discourse analysis on the basis of Halliday's Systemic Functional Grammar), Cognitive Discourse Analysis, Research Methods in Linguistics, and Language and Communication. My teaching covers fundamental areas in Linguistics (e.g., in Foundations of Linguistics) but also draws on wider insights from Cognitive Science.

I am happy to supervise postgraduate projects in all of the areas mentioned above, in particular those that employ discourse analysis and/or address topics in areas of cognitive linguistics, communication, functional grammar, and more - just get in touch to explore!

Postgraduate Project Opportunities

I welcome enquiries from students interested in pursuing a PhD related to cognitive discourse analysis and communication.

Grant Awards and Projects

EU Project: Enhancing spatial ability to help close the gender gap in STEM Press release

Consortium member of EU project 956124: SellSTEM, EU H2020-MSCA-ITN-2020 Consortium initiated by Dr. Gavin Duffy, Dublin. Title: Spatial thinking in STEM learning: Training a new generation of researchers to increase enrolment and gender balance in STEM learning by addressing deficits in spatial ability among children in Europe. Duration: January 2021 - December 2024.

Research areas and keywords


  • P Philology. Linguistics

Education / academic qualifications

  • 2005 - DPhil , Localising objects and events: Discoursal applicability conditions for spatiotemporal expressions in English and German

Prof. activities and awards (28)

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