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Sam Kirkham supervises 3 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Dr Sam Kirkham


Sam Kirkham

Lancaster University

County South



Tel: +44 1524 594577

Research overview

I am a lecturer in the Department of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster University. I also coordinate Lancaster University Phonetics Lab, which is a research group with broad interests in speech (speech production, sociophonetics, forensic speech science, speech technology) and a laboratory space with excellent facilities for acoustic and articulatory data collection. Prior to coming to Lancaster, I studied at the University of Sheffield, where I took courses in linguistics, literature, philosophy, computer science, and biomedical science, before being awarded my PhD in 2014.

I am fascinated by the human voice as a complex biological, physical, and social phenomenon. My research investigates the acoustics of speech and the movements of the vocal tract, with a broad focus on the following two areas:

  1. Speech production in bilinguals and language contact varieties
  2. Acoustic-articulatory relations in speech

My work on bilingual speech focuses on language-specific acoustic and articulatory strategies, cross-linguistic transfer, and what this can tell us about the human voice and bilingual sound systems. I have previously done acoustic and ultrasound research on English-Punjabi bilinguals (with Jessica Wormald, JP French Associates & Maya Zara, Lancaster) and Twi-English bilinguals (with Claire Nance, Lancaster). I am currently working on some new projects in this area — more info coming soon!

I became interested in acoustic-articulatory relations when doing research on coronal stops during my PhD and I find the relationship between speech movements, vocal tract geometry, aerodynamics and acoustics endlessly fascinating. I am excited to be pursuing some new projects in this area, which primarily involve my lab's electromagnetic articulography facilities. I am currently collecting data to study acoustic-articulatory inversion, bilingual speech, and speaker/dialect recognition (with Georgina Brown, Lancaster).

Much of my previous research has investigated phonetic variation between different dialects or groups of speakers, including why such variation might occur and what it could mean (with Emma Moore, Sheffield). More generally, I believe that a truly comprehensive account of the human voice needs to adopt a holistic approach that integrates our understanding of the physics, biomechanics, phonology, and sociolinguistics of speech production.

PhD supervision

I am interested in supervising students who wish to carry out research in the following areas: phonetics, sociophonetics, articulatory phonetics, speech production, phonetics of bilingualism, dialect variation, phonetic fieldwork, South Asian languages and Englishes. I particularly welcome projects that make use of our lab's specialist instrumentation, which includes electromagnetic articulography (EMA), high-speed ultrasound, electropalatography (EPG), electroglottography (EGG), and aerodynamics systems. Please note that I do not supervise topics in applied linguistics, such as pronunciation teaching, and I will only consider studies of second language acquisition that either (i) demonstrate a strong theoretical focus on testing models of bilingualism or L2 speech; or (ii) involve studying the detailed mechanisms of speech production (such as cross-linguistic articulatory strategies).

Current Teaching

I teach on the following courses:

  • LING102 English Language
  • LING223 English Phonetics
  • LING327 Advanced English Phonetics
  • LING416 Sociophonetics

In 2016 I was awarded Lancaster University's Undergraduate Teaching Award, which is a university-wide prize based on student nominations and testimonials. I have also been nominated for Best Dissertation Supervisor and Best Student Advisor awards at Lancaster, as well as Postgraduate Tutor of the Year when I was a PhD student at Sheffield.

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