Dr Sam Kirkham


Research Overview

I am fascinated by speech as a complex biological, physical, cognitive and social system. I have broad interests that span speech acoustics, kinematics, bilingualism, motor control, sociophonetics, sound change, and laboratory phonology. I study these topics across a range of languages and dialects via fieldwork and laboratory research, using methods such as acoustic analysis, ultrasound imaging and electromagnetic articulography. Some of my ongoing research is outlined below.

Bilingual sound systems and phonological representation

My research investigates how bilingual sound systems work, with a focus on language-specific speech production goals, the nature of phonetic and phonological transfer, and speech development. Much of my research in this area has used ultrasound to image the movements of the tongue during speech. I work on languages including English, Punjabi, Twi, Turkish, Sylheti and Scottish Gaelic.

Collaborators: Kathleen McCarthy (QMUL), Jessica Wormald (JP French forensics lab), Bahar Asku (Lancaster), Claire Nance(Lancaster), Maya Zara (Lancaster), Chloé Diskin (Melbourne), Rosey Billington (Melbourne), Debbie Loakes (Melbourne), Simon Gonzalez Ochoa (ANU)

Sociophonetics and laboratory phonology

My PhD focused on sociophonetic variation in high-contact multiethnic communities, during which I also worked extensively on the social meanings of variation. Since then, our group at Lancaster has documented phonetic and phonological variation in the North West of England, which so far includes research on laterals and intonation. More recently, my interests in this area have shifted towards the intersection of sociophonetics and laboratory phonology, with a focus on sound change. Current research focuses on sound change and rhoticity in Blackburn, and regional vowel variation in a large (4000+ speakers) crowdsourced speech corpus.

Collaborators: Danielle Turton (Newcastle), Georgina Brown (Lancaster), Adrian Leemann (Lancaster), Claire Nance (Lancaster), Bethany Littlewood (Sheffield), Kate Lightfoot (Anglia Ruskin), Eve Groarke (NHS)

Speech production and experimental phonetics

I am interested in speech production, including causal models of speech acoustics, articulation and aerodynamics, mechanisms of speech, and speech motor control. I am currently completing a project on adaptation to an artificial palate, as well as conducting new research on the relationship between laryngeal and supralaryngeal kinematics. I am also committed to descriptive research on a diverse range of languages and dialects, which I believe is really important from a sociocultural perspective and also for comprehensively testing our theories.

Collaborators: Maximilian Topps (Lancaster), Míša Hejná (Aarhus), Emily Gorman (Lancaster), Agnes Henson (Leeds Beckett)

Studying intonation in varieties of English: Gender and individual variation in Liverpool
Nance, C., Kirkham, S., Groarke, E. 6/02/2018 In: Sociolinguistics in England. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan p. 275-296. 22 p.
Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Nance, C., Kirkham, S. 5/02/2018 In: English Language. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan p. 29-41. 13 p.
Chapter (peer-reviewed)

An acoustic-articulatory study of bilingual vowel production: advanced tongue root vowels in Twi and tense/lax vowels in Ghanaian English
Kirkham, S., Nance, C. 05/2017 In: Journal of Phonetics. 62, p. 65-81. 17 p.
Journal article

Ethnicity and phonetic variation in Sheffield English liquids
Kirkham, S. 04/2017 In: Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 47, 1, p. 17-35. 19 p.
Journal article

Constructing multiculturalism at school: negotiating tensions in talk about ethnic diversity
Kirkham, S. 07/2016 In: Discourse and Society. 27, 4, p. 383-400. 18 p.
Journal article

Constructing social meaning in political discourse: phonetic variation and verb processes in Ed Miliband's speeches
Kirkham, S., Moore, E. 02/2016 In: Language in Society. 45, 1, p. 87-111. 25 p.
Journal article

Research, relationships and reflexivity: two case studies of language and identity
Kirkham, S., Mackey, A. 2016 In: Ethics in applied linguistics research. London : Routledge p. 103-120. 18 p.
Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Intersectionality and the social meanings of variation: class, ethnicity, and social practice
Kirkham, S. 15/10/2015 In: Language in Society. 44, 5, p. 629-652. 24 p.
Journal article

Acoustic and articulatory variation in British Asian English liquids
Kirkham, S., Wormald, J. 2015 In: Proceedings of the XVIII International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Glasgow : University of Glasgow p. 1-5. 5 p.
Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Intonational variation in Liverpool English
Nance, C., Kirkham, S., Groarke, E. 2015 In: Proceedings of the XVIII International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Glasgow : University of Glasgow 5 p.
Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Research, relationships and reflexitvity: two case studies of language and identity
Kirkham, S.D., Mackey, A.J. 2015 In: Ethics in Applied Linguistics Research. London : Routledge ISBN: 9780415739061.

Kirkham, S., Moore, E. 2013 In: The Handbook of Language Variation and Change. Oxford : Wiley-Blackwell p. 277-296. 20 p. ISBN: 9780470659946.

Ethnicity, social practice and phonetic variation in a Sheffield secondary school
Kirkham, S. 2013 University of Sheffield. 323 p.
Doctoral Thesis

Personal style and epistemic stance in classroom discussion
Kirkham, S. 08/2011 In: Language and Literature. 20, 3, p. 201-217. 17 p.
Journal article

The acoustics of coronal stops in British Asian English
Kirkham, S. 2011 In: Proceedings of the XVII International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. p. 1102-1105. 4 p.