Dr Thora Tenbrink

Reader in Cognitive Linguistics


Contact info

Thora Tenbrink is Director of Research at the College of Arts and Humanities. 

Contact Info

Thora Tenbrink is Director of Research at the College of Arts and Humanities. 


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. 

Later, I 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 Linguistics and English Language I currently have four functions – researcher, lecturer, director of research, and ethics officer. Contact me about any of these, for instance if you are wondering about how to do empirical studies and get ethics approval. 


My main interest concerns the relationship between linguistic representations and cognitive processes, as addressed through Cognitive Discourse Analysis (CODA: Tenbrink, 2015). This research is primarily empirical: Typically I confront speakers with a particular task to do and record the language they use in relation to this task. After transcription, linguistic data analysis focuses on specific features that reflect how the speakers conceive of the task given to them. 

For instance, I have done research on wayfinding strategies, spatial communication in complex built environments, and spatial inferences derived by wayfinders from situational clues, experience, and verbal and graphical information. 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, knirb.net

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 empirical methodology, in particular in areas of natural language data analysis. This comprises Functions of Discourse, Cognitive Discourse Analysis, Research Methods in Linguistics, and Language and Communication. Since my research addresses the human mind, some of my teaching also draws on insights from Cognitive Science.

I am happy to supervise postgraduate projects in all of the areas mentioned above, plus further topics related to Cognitive Linguistics, communication, Functional Grammar, or further areas in Linguistics - just get in touch to explore!

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

Publications (39)

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Prof. activities and awards (18)

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