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