Dr Sam Kirkham


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.

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)

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.