Language variation and change

Overview

Overview

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 sociolinguistics, sociophonetics, language and identity studies, historical linguistics, dialectology 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.

Sociophonetics

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.

Current projects: 

Past projects:

  • Accent and identity on the Scottish-English border (AISEB)
  • regional variation in Punjabi-accented English
  • sociolinguistic variation and enregisterment in computer-mediated communication
  • accent and attitudes on the Merseyside/Lancashire border
  • phonological acquisition in multi-dialectical environments
  • attitude and identity in bilingual Wales
  • adolescent identity and language use in the classroom
  • phonological variation in the English of north-eastern England
  • variation and change in Brazilian Portuguese
  • accent and attitude among Indian call-centre workers
  • vowel harmony in north-east Scotland
  • second dialect acquisition among Canadians in the US
  • phonological variation in Norman French

Syntactic variation and change

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.

Current projects:

  • the effect of information structure on word order in the history of English
  • the influence of Latin on Old English syntax
  • metrical structure and syntactic patterning in Old English rhythmic prose
  • the rise of periphrastic DO in Shakespeare’s period
  • the decline of verb second order in Chaucer’s period
  • grammatical and phonological variation in dialects of northern England

Collaboration

Collaboration

The LVC research group has collaborative links with:

  • Newcastle University
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Glasgow
  • Edge Hill University
  • JP French Associates Ltd., York
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Arizona
  • New York University
  • City University of New York
  • Roskilde University, Denmark
  • Memorial University Newfoundland

Members

Members

Staff Students
  • Paul Foulkes             
  • Sam Hellmuth
  • Paul Kerswill
  • Carmen Llamas
  • Susan Pintzuk
  • Ann Taylor
  • Anthony Warner
  • Dominic Watt
  • Shaun Austin
  • Thomas Devlin
  • Lucinda Machell- Ffolkes                                                                                                      
  • Helen West
  • Kimberly Witten                                

Projects

Projects

Recently completed projects

  • Dialect levelling and standard language ideology in Hønefoss, Norway  (Nanna Haug Hilton)
  • Language attitudes in the Luxembourg multilingual educational context (Daniel Redinger)
  • Variation and change in Morley (Leeds) English (Hazel Richards)
  • Dialect contact in the Basque Country (Bill Haddican)