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Sociolinguistics, Variation and Change

Several of our researchers work in the discipline of sociolinguistics. Particular interests include perceptions of and attitudes towards spoken language variation, language change, and the social meanings of linguistic forms. Our researchers investigate the ways in which linguistic variation and language choices are affected by, and affect attitudes within, wider society. Our researchers employ a range of theoretical and methodological paradigms developed in the fields of corpus linguistics, social cognition, social psychology and variationist sociolinguistics. The Northern Englishes Project is also froms part of the Sociolinguistics, Variation and Change research group, with a number of PhD students attached.

Dr Robert McKenzie’s research is focussed mainly on the areas of variationist sociolinguistics, folklinguistics and the social psychology of language. He has a particular interest in the quantitiative investigation of folk perceptions and evaluations of spoken language variation, especially the ways in which individuals’ attach social meanings to language varieties and how linguistic diversity is indexed within given speech communities. In 2010, he published a monograph entitled The Social Psychology of English as a Global Language (Springer) and is currently working on a large scale quantitative study comparing explicit and implicit attitudes towards /p,t,k/ glottalisation and /t/ glottal replacement in Tyneside English speech.

Dr Phillip Wallage works on variation and change in the history of English from 800 to the present-day. His research is primarily empirical, employing a quantitative variationist approach which identifies and models patterns of variation and change in historical corpora. Its main concern is with the relationship between the quantitative analysis of corpus data and the formal or functional analysis of syntactic changes within a variety of linguistic frameworks, including Minimalist syntax. His recent work argues that quantitative data provide both a means to evaluate different formal and functional accounts of the grammaticalisation of English negative markers, and an empirical basis for a new account of the grammaticalisation process. He has published in the journals Lingua and English Language and Linguistics and is currently writing a monograph A History of English Negation: grammatical and functional change for Cambridge University Press, to appear in 2017.

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