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Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Any area of pragmatics relating to meaning in context, including but not limited to pragmatic inferences, implicatures, speech acts, (im)politeness, misunderstandings, meaning in interaction

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Personal profile


Chi-Hé Elder is an Associate Professor in Linguistics at the University of East Anglia. She specialises in theoretical pragmatics, with a particular interest in the cognitive processes involved in utterance comprehension. She completed her PhD in 2015 on the pragmatics of conditionals at the University of Cambridge, which has recently been revised as a monograph entitled Context, Cognition and Conditionals, published by Palgrave MacMillan in 2019. Her second research project, Pragmatics in interaction: An exploration of miscommunication, was supported by a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship (2015-18). This moved her work beyond that of the specific case of conditionals towards questioning the object of pragmatic theory at large, asking what counts as 'successful communication' and examining the extent to which an intention-based model of meaning is applicable to everyday interactions. Her current work is pushing the interactional account further, looking at how the discursive settings affect how people orient to, negotiate and/or ignore misunderstandings in communication.

Key Research Interests

Chi-Hé Elder's research lies in the field of pragmatics. Her key research interests are in how contextual factors affect and constrain the ways that people formulate what they say, as well as how context affects how meanings are interpreted. She is particularly interested in how misunderstandings arise in communication, and how they are negotiated and resolved - including cases where people choose to ignore misunderstandings or leave them unresolved. These issues involve looking at classic topics in pragmatics, including speech acts, politeness, and conversational maxims, as well as at the structure of interaction. 

She is interested in supervising PhD projects in any area of pragmatics relating to meaning in context, including but not limited to issues around implicatures, speech acts, politeness, misunderstandings, and meaning in interaction.

Academic Background

After gaining a BSc in Mathematics from the University of Warwick in 2007, Chi-Hé moved to the University of Cambridge to commence her graduate studies in Linguistics. She was awarded an MPhil in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics in 2010, before completing her PhD 'On the forms of conditionals and the functions of if' in 2015. She moved to UEA in September 2015 as a Leverhulme Postdoctoral Research Fellow. She is now Associate Professor in Linguistics in the department of Language and Communication Studies in the School of PPL.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 1 Mar 2015

Master of Philosophy, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 1 Jul 2010

Bachelor of Science, University of Warwick

Award Date: 1 Jul 2007


  • Linguistics & Philology
  • pragmatics
  • conditionals
  • miscommunication
  • dialogue