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The University of Southampton

"Languages at War: French and English linguists in the Great War" Event

Great War: Unknown War
16 October 2014
Lecture Theatre A Avenue Campus University of Southampton Southampton SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this event, please email Professor Mark Cornwall at .

Event details

This lecture series, “Unknown War”, is designed to show-case original research at the University of Southampton from across the Faculty of Humanities.

When the Great War broke out, the British and French armies faced the challenge of communicating between their two languages. Many British officers spoke French, but preferred to serve on the front line. It was left to the French authorities to provide the majority of military and civilian interpreters. They played a vital role but had ambiguous status within the forces. This lecture will draw on texts and images of the period to explore the interplay of language, class and identity.

Speaker biography

Michael Kelly is Professor of French at the University of Southampton and a specialist on the cultural history of France and on language policy. He has written widely on cultural relations between Britain and France. His project on ‘Languages at war’ studied the policies and practices of the military in relation to language, focusing on the NATO intervention in Bosnia in the 1990s, which is the subject of his recent book Interpreting the peace (Palgrave 2013)


Below you will find a recording of the lecture.

Speaker information

Professor Michael Kelly,Head of Modern Languages

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