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Professor Paul Kerswill

Formerly at Lancaster University

Paul Kerswill

PhD supervision

I am keen to supervise doctoral research in the following areas: variation and change in English and other languages (especially Scandinavian) dialectology, especially dialect contact new-dialect formation sociolinguistic aspects of phonetics the role of young people in language change language shift and language planning New Englishes in Africa Sociology of language in Africa

Current Teaching

I teach on the following modules:

Ling 130 English Language

Ling 153 Introduction to Language in Society

Ling 307 Language and Identities: Gender, Ethnicity and Class

Ling 435 Sociolinguistics (MA)

Ling 401 Research Methods in Linguistics and English Language (MA)

Ling 516 English Accents and Dialects (MA English Language by Distance Learning)

Research Interests

My research is in social dialectology - a sociolinguistically informed approach to language variation and change. I am interested in how variation and change is patterned within speech communities - big cities, small towns or whole geographical regions - in which factors such as class, gender, ethnicity, age, as well as identity and mobility, play a part in how language varieties are distributed across the community and through time.

All my research has been on dialect contact - the long-term linguistic consequences that ensue when speakers of different accents or dialects come together through migration and mobility. My first research looked at the ways in which Norwegian rural dialect speakers changed their vernacular speech after they had migrated to the city of Bergen .

One of the consequences of dialect contact is dialect levelling - the overall reduction in linguistic diversity across a dialect area. I worked on a speech community in which there has been "extreme" levelling - the New Town of Milton Keynes. I've also looked at dialect levelling from a geographical perspective, and considered the effects of social network differences in this process.

Currently I'm working on the second of two large ESRC-funded projects on phonetic and grammatical features among teenagers and older people in London, taking account of its massive ethnic diversity. See 'My Projects' panel on the right for details.

The following publications are central to my areas of research:

Kerswill, Paul (2003). Dialect levelling and geographical diffusion in British English. In D. Britain and J. Cheshire (eds.) Social dialectology. In honour of Peter Trudgill. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 223-243.

Kerswill, Paul & Williams, Ann (2000). Creating a new town koine: children and language change in Milton Keynes. Language in Society 29: 65-115.

Kerswill, Paul (1996). Children, adolescents and language change. Language Variation and Change 8: 177-202.

Kerswill, Paul (1993). Rural dialect speakers in an urban speech community: the role of dialect contact in defining a sociolinguistic concept. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 3: 33-56.

Kerswill, Paul (1987). Levels of linguistic variation in Durham. Journal of Linguistics 23: 25-49.

Publications, CV and presentations, plus the first UK Language Variation and Change conference:

  • You can DOWNLOAD many of my publications up to 2008 here or here.
  • My CV (November 2010) is here.
  • To catch up on my publications since 2000, go to the Lancaster University eprints display further down this page.
  • Link to announcement (pdf) and programme (pdf) of the First UK Language Variation Workshop, Reading 1997 (now UKLVC)
  • Powerpoint of a talk on 'deracination' of linguistic identity in dialect levelling and the appropriation of new identities in inner-city London (Birkbeck, May 2010)
  • Powerpoint of a talk on the emergence of Multicultural London English (Philological Society, November 2010).
  • Powerpoint of a talk on African and European youth languages (Language in Africa: An Inter-University Research Seminar Exploring Language Usage and Values in a Range of Contexts. Edge Hill University, November 2010)
  • Powerpoint of a public lecture at the British Library on Multicultural London English, March 2011
  • Pdf of Sunday Times 5 June 2011 (front page) article on accents quoting our ESRC work and that of others - I don't necessarily agree with the opinions about accents expressed!
  • Pdf of Sunday Times 5 June 2011 (page 11) - ditto

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