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This site last updated May 2023. 


Bill Downes is an author and academic. He is currently Senior Fellow in the School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies, University of East Anglia , Norwich. Educated in Canada at Queen's and Toronto universities and in England at University College London, he has taught at the London School of Economics, 

the University of East Anglia and Glendon College, York University, Toronto, where was a founder member of the English department in 1966 and an Adjunct Professor from 2003-2017. The author of Language and Society (1998) and Language and Religion (2011) and numerous articles, he researches the relation of linguistic pragmatics, cognition and culture.

The purpose of this website is to make available writing and research and to invite commentary and connections.


My latest book, " Language and Religion" has been cited by Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, in his recent Gifford Lectures delivered in Edinburgh in 2013 which were published as " The Edge of Words". See Church of England Newspaper review.

To order "Language and Religion":

From Cambridge University Press directly, please use this link.


During Autumn 2014, I was a Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study at the University of Durham, UK. My Fellow's lecture " The Emergence of the Plain Style in 17th Century England", 21st October 2014.

I also gave a seminar entitled "Relevance and Emergence" which explored relevance as algorithmic complexity in relation to emergence. A version of this has been published as " Two concepts of relevance and the emergence of mind ." in the Institutes' e-journal INSIGHTS Vol.9. no 7. (2016).


The section PUBLICATIONS makes available some early articles.

In December 2013 the ' Puzzle of the Gerundive' (2001) was added.

A recent addition to NEW WORK is the forthcoming article Prayer as a Cognitive Register, to be published in Paul Chilton and Monika Kopytowska " Religion, Language and Mind" Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Added to NEW WORK was my Taiwan paper: Complexity, Relevance and the Emergence of Culture, which contains an analysis of relevance as degree of algorithmic complexity.

Also, recent talk in Toronto, Language, Affectivity and Aesthetic Values: at Centre for Research on Language Contact and Department of English Studies, Glendon College, York University, Toronto, Oct. 25th, 2012. See video link.

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