Paul Kerswill works in sociolinguistics, specifically language variation and change. He was appointed Professor in January 2012, after appointments at Reading and Lancaster.
- University of Cambridge (Gonville and Caius College)
BA in Modern Languages (1978, MA 1982)
MPhil in Linguistics (1980)
PhD in Linguistics (1985)
- University of Durham
Research Assistant (1983)
- University of Cambridge
Research Assistant (1985-6)
- University of Reading
Lecturer/Senior Lecturer (1986-2004)
- University of Lancaster
My research is in language variation and change, with an emphasis on phonetic but also grammatical and discourse variation.
My research is largely focused on dialect contact – the long-term
linguistic consequences that ensue when speakers of different accents or
dialects come together through migration and mobility. My doctoral
research looked at the ways in which Norwegian rural dialect speakers
changed their vernacular speech after they had migrated to the city of
A consequence 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. With colleagues at Queen Mary, University of
London, I have also worked extensively on Multicultural London English, a
new 'contact variety' which has emerged in London's East End and
elsewhere in the capital. This has led to my growing interest in new
youth language varieties, particularly in Northern Europe, where I
maintain contacts with scholars in several countries.
Research group(s)Language variation and change
- January 2011–December 2011: ESRC Follow-On Fund scheme. Co-investigator (Principal Investigator Prof. Jenny Cheshire). From sociolinguistic research to English language teaching.
- October 2007–September 2010: ESRC, Principal Investigator. Multicultural London English: the emergence, acquisition and diffusion of a new variety.
- October 2004–September 2007: ESRC, Principal Investigator. Linguistic innovators: the English of adolescents in London.
- September 1995–May 1999: ESRC, Principal Investigator. The role of adolescents in dialect levelling.
- September 1990–February 1994: ESRC, Principal Investigator. A new dialect in a new city: children's and adults' speech in Milton Keynes.
- Jenny Cheshire
- Eivind Torgersen
- Sue Fox
- Mark Sebba
Available PhD research projects
- Any topics in Language Variation and Change (Social Dialectology), but especially:
- Dialect contact
- Youth language
- Language contact (particularly sociolinguistic aspects)
- Language and migration
- Norwegian sociolinguistics
- Sociology of language in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Kate Whisker (ESRC): Salience of morphosyntactic and phonological variables in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
- Helen West (AHRC): Phonological convergence and divergence in Southport, Ormskirk and Liverpool
- Lucinda Machell-ffolkes (ESRC): Representation of dialect features in Yorkshire dialect literature
- Shaun Austin (ESRC): Adolescent speaking style, working-class identity and the English SATS and GCSE tests
- Elaheh Almousavi: The effect of internal migration on the Azerbaijani Turkish language in Iran: A study of the 1st person plural pronoun suffix variation in Tabriz
- Katarzyna Alexander: An instrumental sociophonetic of voicing and gemination in Cypriot Greek
- Paulina Hurwitz: A sociophonetic study of aspiration and voicing in Hebridean English
- Werdan Kassab: Accent and dialect in Milton Keynes 20 years on
The following papers have proved central to my research and teaching:
- Kerswill, Paul (fc 2012). Identity, ethnicity and place: the construction of youth language in London. In P. Auer (ed.) Space in Language and Linguistics. Berlin: De Gruyter.
- Kerswill, Paul, Cheshire, Jenny, Fox, Susan and Torgersen, Eivind (fc 2012). English as a contact language: the role of children and adolescents. In Hundt, Marianne & Schreier, Daniel (eds.) English as a contact language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Cheshire, Jenny, Kerswill, Paul, Fox, Susan & Torgersen, Eivind (2011). Contact, the feature pool and the speech community: The emergence of Multicultural London English. Journal of Sociolinguistics 15/2: 151–196.
- Kerswill, Paul (2010). Sociolinguistic approaches to language change: phonology. In Wodak, Ruth, Johnstone, Barbara & Kerswill, Paul (eds.). Sage handbook of sociolinguistics. London: Sage. 219–235.
- Kerswill, Paul (2010). Contact and new varieties. In Raymond Hickey (ed.) Blackwell handbook of language contact. Oxford: Blackwell. 230–251.
- Kerswill, Paul, Torgersen, Eivind & Fox, Susan (2008). Reversing ‘drift’: Innovation and diffusion in the London diphthong system. Language Variation and Change 20: 451–491.
- Kerswill, Paul (2006). Socio-economic class. In Carmen Llamas & Peter Stockwell (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Sociolinguistics. London: Routledge.
- Kerswill, Paul (2006). RP, Standard English and the standard/non-standard relationship. In David Britain (ed.) Language in the British Isles (2nd edn.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Kerswill, Paul (2006). Migration and language. In Klaus Mattheier, Ulrich Ammon & Peter Trudgill (eds.) Sociolinguistics/Soziolinguistik. An international handbook of the science of language and society, 2 nd edn., Vol 3. Berlin: De Gruyter.
- Kerswill, Paul and Peter Trudgill (2005). The birth of new dialects. In P. Auer, F. Hinskens & P. Kerswill (eds.). Dialect change: Convergence and divergence in European languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 196-220.
- Kerswill, Paul & Williams, Ann (2005). New towns and koineisation: linguistic and social correlates. Linguistics 43(5): 1023-1048.
- Torgersen, Eivind & Kerswill, Paul (2004). Internal and external motivation in phonetic change: dialect levelling outcomes for an English vowel shift. Journal of Sociolinguistics 8: 24-53.
- 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 (2002). Koineization and accommodation. In J. K. Chambers, P. Trudgill & N. Schilling-Estes (eds.) The handbook of language variation and change. Oxford: Blackwell. 669-702.
- Kerswill, Paul (2002). A dialect with 'great inner strength'? The perception of nativeness in the Bergen speech community. In Daniel Long & Dennis Preston (eds.) A handbook of perceptual dialectology, Vol. 2. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 155-175.
- Kerswill, Paul & Williams, Ann (2002). Dialect recognition and speech community focusing in new and old towns in England: the effects of dialect levelling, demography and social networks. In Daniel Long & Dennis Preston (eds.) A handbook of perceptual dialectology, Vol. 2. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 178-207.
- Kerswill, Paul & Williams, Ann (2002). 'Salience' as an explanatory factor in language change: evidence from dialect levelling in urban England. In M. C. Jones & E. Esch (eds.) Language change. The interplay of internal, external and extra-linguistic factors. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 81-110. [All except four non-critical pages of this article can be viewed on Google Books.]
- Kerswill, Paul (2001). Mobility, meritocracy and dialect levelling: the fading (and phasing) out of Received Pronunciation. In P. Rajamäe & K. Vogelberg (eds.). British studies in the new millennium: the challenge of the grassroots. Tartu: University of Tartu. 45-58. Also at http://www.universalteacher.org.uk/lang/rp.htm (website originally set up by the late Andrew Moore for 'A' level English Language students).
- Kerswill, Paul & Williams, Ann (2000). Mobility and social class in dialect levelling: evidence from new and old towns in England. In Klaus Mattheier (ed.) Dialect and migration in a changing Europe. Frankfurt: Peter Lang. 1-13.
- 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.
Full publications list
Download the full publication list: Kerswill Publications (PDF , 91kb)