Professor, Department of Language and Linguistic Science
Paul Kerswill is Professor of Sociolinguistics in the Department of Language and Linguistic Science. His main research has been on the linguistic effects of migration, starting with his doctoral research in Norway on rural migrants in the city of Bergen, followed four ESRC-funded projects on the development of a new dialect in the New Town of Milton Keynes and, latterly, on the development of ‘Multicultural London English’ in the high-migration, multilingual and less affluent parts of the East End of London. These projects, on which he was Principal Investigator, have been quantitative, involving the creation of databases of transcribed speech of 1 million words or more. Each study has a strong social element, dealing with migration, social class, social network and ethnicity – all of which link to the notion of ‘identity’. At the same time, Paul has published on the role of the media in the labelling and (negative) stereotyping of dialects, particularly Multicultural London English. In addition to supervising doctoral work in sociolinguistics, Paul has also supervised two empirically-based PhDs dealing with development communication in rural parts of West/Central Africa, one in Ghana, the other in Cameroon. A third African PhD was on the politics of language choice in informal trade across the border between Benin and Nigeria. Paul has given lectures on the role of the English language in Ghana, as well as on development communication. Currently, he is co-authoring a chapter on language choice in development in Northern Ghana, to be published in the Routledge Handbook of Language in Conflict. Together with colleagues in the School of Languages at the University of Ghana, he is planning a project dealing with communication between development agents and local people, as well as (in the longer term) projects on issues arising from multilingualism.