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Professor Paul Kerswill
Paul Kerswill worked in Language Variation and Linguistic Theory (LVLT) until December 2011.
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Professor of Sociolinguistics
Degree: BA, MA (Cambridge), MPhil (Cambridge), PhD (Cambridge)
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)
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
- YouTube video of my TEDxEastEnd lecture on 8 September 2011 on "Who's and Eastender now? Migration and the transformation of the Cockney dialect": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAnFbJ65KYM. I attempt to deconstruct David Starkey's comments on 'Jamaican patois' and the August 2011 riots.
- Link to article in The Sun on The Only Way is Essex, the ITV reality soap, 21 October 2011
- Pdf of print version of Sun article on The Only Way is Essex, containing more detail than the above ("This pronounciation [sic] could be an Australian influence" deleted from final version)
Potential Doctoral Proposals
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
Eprints Publications Repository and Bibliographic Database
Paul Kerswill has 22 selected publication records listed on this webpage. Use links to access abstracts and full text where available. View all records to sort by date, type and title. For all ePrints records go to http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk
Kerswill, Paul and Torgersen, Eivind and Fox, Sue (2008) Reversing “drift” : Innovation and diffusion in the London diphthong system. Language Variation and Change, 20 (3). pp. 451-491. ISSN 0954-3945
Kerswill, Paul (2007) Standard and non-standard English. In: Language in the British Isles. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 34-51. ISBN 9780521791502
Kerswill, Paul (2006) Migration and language. In: Sociolinguistics/Soziolinguistik. An international handbook of the science of language and society. De Gruyter, Berlin.
Kerswill, Paul and Shockey, Linda (2006) The description and acquisition of variable phonological patterns: phonology and sociolinguistics. In: Phonology in context. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.
Kerswill, Paul and Trudgill, Peter (2005) The birth of new dialects. In: Dialect change : convergence and divergence in European languages. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 0521806879
Torgersen, Eivind and Kerswill, Paul (2004) Internal and external motivation in phonetic change: dialect levelling outcomes for an English vowel shift. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 8 (1). pp. 23-53. ISSN 1360-6441
Kerswill, Paul and Williams, Ann (2002) 'Salience' as an explanatory factor in language change: evidence from dialect levelling in urban England. In: Language change. The interplay of internal, external and extra-linguistic factors. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, pp. 81-110.
Other Interests and Hobbies
Classical music, Scandinavian folk music, violin, viola, walking, travel.
View all research activities, ePrints, news and events associated with Paul Kerswill.