York established itself soon after the University was opened in the 1960s as a major UK and international centre for the study of language variation and change (LVC). LVC covers a number of disciplines in historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, English language studies, and sociology of language.
The Department of Language and Linguistic Science was founded by Robert Le Page, whose work on language and identity with Andrée Tabouret-Keller has since been highly influential on the field of sociolinguistics. Members of the York LVC research group have been responsible for many theoretical and methodological advances in LVC studies and the development of widely-used linguistic corpora.
The LVC group works collaboratively with the other research groups, in particular the Forensics research group and the Phonetics and Phonology research group.
The department is a internationally recognised centre of excellence in sociophonetics, and language and identity studies, both of which are thriving and expanding areas of inquiry. Innovative research techniques and theoretical frameworks are being developed to allow insights into the relationships between fine-grained phonetic production and the social categories we use to negotiate and define our positions as social beings. We combine rigorous quantitative phonetic analyses of speech production with techniques derived from sociolinguistic research more generally.
A new data lab opened in 2011, with state-of-the-art analysis equipment, and numerous socially-stratified databases suitable for sociophonetic research.
York is a major centre for an approach to historical syntax rooted in the interpretation of variation in historical texts. This approach uses insights and methodologies derived from modern sociolinguistics, within a theoretical framework belonging to the Chomskyan tradition. It depends substantially on electronic databases in which historical texts are annotated with syntactic and morphological information, so that sets of relevant examples can be rapidly and accurately retrieved, and variation tracked in detail across time. This methodology is leading to exciting advances.
We have annotated three major databases of earlier English for syntactic and morphological information at York, including sociolinguistic information in one, and we are developing methods to annotate information structure in a reliable way.
The LVC research group has collaborative links with: