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Dr Kevin Watson

Formerly at Lancaster University

Kevin Watson



In Part I (the first year), I currently give lectures on LING 101: Language Description, and lectures and seminars on LING 151: Introduction to General Linguistics, which I also co-convene. I give occasional lectures on LING 153: Introduction to Sociolinguistics and LING 132: Broadcast Talk.

In Part II (the second and third year), I give lectures and seminars and co-convene LING 203: English Sounds and Structures. I'm also course convenor of LING200 Studying Language and LING 301: Linguistic Methodology.

At postgraduate level, I convene and teach the module Investigating Spoken English on the MA English Language by distance learning. I also convene and teach two modules on the PhD by Thesis and Coursework PhD Programme (Investigating Spoken English and Collecting, Transcribing and Analysing Spoken Data). In 2006 and 2008 I taught Investigating Spoken English as part of our MA TESOL programme in Hong Kong, and also in 2008 and 2009 I taught the Foundation Module for the programme.

Main administrative responsibilities

I am the co-ordinator of the Department's MA in English Language by distance learningwhich is designed with teachers of A level English Language in mind.

Collaboration with teachers of A Level English Language

I am committed to working with teachers and students of A Level English language to help raise the levels of communication and collaboration between further education and higher education.

I regularly go to schools and colleges to give talks and workshops to teachers and students about some aspect of the subject, most specifically accent & dialect, phonological variation and change, sociolinguistic methodology and the language investigation.

If you are a teacher or student of A Level English Language and would like to get in touch, feel free to email me.

Research Interests

My research area is sociophonetics - I work in phonetics & phonology (and the interface between the two) but always have at least one eye firmly fixed on variation in spoken language. This means I work at the intersections between phonetics & phonology and sociolinguistics, (particularly langage variation and change). I am interested in how language varies according to a whole range of geographical and social dimensions in both large and small speech communities, and also how that variation can be modelled in a phonological theory. Two broad questions that I attempt to address in my research are, (i) what is 'a phonology' and what information is stored there? and (ii) how can phonological theory benefit from the insights of variationist sociolinguistics? My current research focuses on the accents of the north-west of England, most specifically those that would be encountered on a journey eastward from Liverpool to Manchester (e.g. along the M62 motorway). Most of my work in this area has been on the variety of English spoken in Liverpool (popularly called 'Scouse'), but I have begun to investigate other accents, including those of St. Helens and Wigan. There are several strands to this research, both in phonetics, phonology, and sociolinguistics. My main areas of investigation at the moment are:
  • Phonological convergence and divergence in the varieties of the north-west of England, including issues of dialect levelling (How far does 'the Liverpool accent' extend beyond Liverpool? How far are the accents of the north-west of England becoming supralocal? How do issues of phonological variation and regional identity interact in the area?)
  • Perceptual cues to 'Scouseness' (What phonological features does a speaker need to have in order for him or her to sound 'Scouse'? Does it even make sense to ask that question?)
  • Phonetic variation in Liverpool stops and fricatives, including plosive lenition - one of the most characteristic features of the variety (How frequent is plosive lenition in Liverpool English? How do the phonetics and phonology of lenition interact? How does lenition vary according to e.g. age/gender/social class? How can we best model Liverpool lenition in a phonological theory?)

Some of the questions in the final bullet point above were addressed in my PhD thesis The Phonetics and Phonology of Plosive Lenition in Liverpool English, which was supervised by Dr Patrick Honeybone who is now at the University of Edinburgh. If you would like a copy of my PhD, please email me.

Research Grants

2010-2013: Phonological levelling, diffusion and divergence in Liverpool and its hinterland. Funder: ESRC, £248,676

2007-2009: Lenition in 'old Scouse': a corpus study of Liverpool English plosives. Funder: British Academy, £5281.

2006: Phonological influences on children's spelling mistakes. Funder: Faculty of Social Sciences, Lancaster University, £1947

Selected recent and forthcoming publications

See here for full list: http://www.ling.lancs.ac.uk/staff/kevin/kevinpubs.htm

Watson, K. (forthcoming) Liverpool English, lenition and the sharing of subsegmental material.

Watson, K. (forthcoming) Phonetic variability in Liverpool English plosives: undershoot or fine-grained control?

Honeybone, P. & Watson, K. (in prep) The sociolinguistics of orthography: exploring contemporary, humorous, localised dialect literature.

Watson, K. (2009) Phonetics. In Culpeper, J., Katamba, F. Kerswill, P. Wodak, R. & McEnery, T. (eds.) English Language: Description, Variation and Context. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 12-29

Watson, K. (2009) Regional variation in English accents and dialects. In Culpeper, J., Katamba, F. Kerswill, P. Wodak, R. & McEnery, T. (eds.) English Language: Description, Variation and Context. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 337-357

Watson, K. (2008). Is Scouse getting Scouser? Exploring phonological change in contemporary Liverpool English. In Grant, A. & Grey C. (eds) The Mersey Sound: Liverpool's Language, People and Places. Liverpool: Open House Press, 215-241.

Watson, K. (2007) Liverpool English. Journal of the International Phonetics Association, 37/3, 351-360.

Selected recent and forthcoming talks

See here for full list:http://www.ling.lancs.ac.uk/staff/kevin/kevinpubs.htm

(2010, forthcoming) Lax articulation or fine-grained control?: plosive lenition in Liverpool English. Paper to be presented at the 34th International LAUD Symposium on Cognitive Sociolinguistics, 15-18 March 2010, Landau, Germany.

(2010, forthcoming) We're 'over the water from them': language and identity on the Wirral peninsula. Paper to be presented at the Borders and Identities conference, 8-10 January 2010, Newcastle (with Rowan Hoper)

(2009) Plosive lenition in Liverpool English: using a phonological corpus to compare the past with the present. Paper to be presented at the PAC Workshop on Models, Variation & Phonological Corpora, Sept 2009, Aix-en-Provence (with Kate Whisker)

(2009) 'The production and perception of NURSE and SQUARE in Wigan'. Paper presented at the UK Language Variation and Change conference, Sept 2009, Newcastle, UK. (with Angie Owen)

(2009) 'The effect of Liverpool English speakers' geographical mobility & social networks on their production and perception of the NURSE/SQUARE merger.' Paper presented at the conference on Perception, Production & Attitude, University of Leuven, April 2009. (with Karen Mattock, Department of Psychology, Lancaster University).

(2008) 'Sociophonetics: more than the sum of its parts?' Invited lecture at the special session Northern English and (socio)linguistic theory, Northern Englishes Workshop 3, Salford University.

(2008) '"What do you mean 'hair' doesn't rhyme with 'her'?" Exploring the scouse of young Scousers'. Invited lecture at the Celebrating Scouse Conference, organised by Liverpool University.

(2007) 'Utterance-final debuccalisation in Liverpool English' Paper presented at the 6th UK Language Variation & Change Conference, 11-13 September, Lancaster University.

(2007) 'Exploring phonological change and language ideologies in England's north-west' Invited talk at Salford University, 28 November.

(2007) 'Definite article reduction in northern England: on frequency, constructions and sociolinguistics.' Paper presented at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Linguistics Symposium on Formulaic Language, April 18-21 (with Willem Hollmann).

(2007) 'Dialect contact in the north-west of England: examining the evidence.' Paper presented at the Northern English Workshop 2 (NEW2), University of Edinburgh, March 16-17 (with Paul Kerswill and Eivind Torgersen).

Research Affiliations

I am a member of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain (LAGB), the British Association of Academic Phoneticians (BAAP), and the International Phonetics Association (IPA).

Within the Department of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster, I am involved in a number of research groups, including Research in Theoretical Linguistics, Language Variation and Change, and the research group on Speech (for which I am the main organiser).

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