Skip navigation

Dr Robert McKenzie

Senior Lecturer in Sociolinguistics

Department: Humanities

I received my first degree (Scottish MA) in Psychology from the University of Glasgow and then taught in Hong Kong, Italy, France, Spain and Poland.

I returned to Scotland and taught at the University of Edinburgh for 2 years and completed an MSc in Applied Linguistics. In 1996 I began working at the University of Glasgow. During this time I completed a PhD in Sociolinguistics at the University of Edinburgh. In 2009 I left the University of Glasgow and joined the Department of Humanities at Northumbria University.

Read more about my research on the Northern Englishes Project webpage.

0191 227 3122


MA (Glasgow), MSc (Edinburgh), PhD (Edinburgh)

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

My research is focussed mainly in the areas of variationist sociolinguistics, folklinguistics and the social psychology of language. I have a particular interest in folk perceptions of and attitudes towards 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 turn, I also investigate the ways in which non-linguists’ perceptions of language variation impact upon communities of speakers more widely. My recent research has been relatively wide-ranging in scope and has focussed on implicit and explicit public attitudes towards language variation, speech perception, language ideology and identity, university internationalisation and linguistic diversity the social psychology of language spread and quantitative research methods in sociolinguistics. In 2010, I published a research monograph entitled The Social Psychology of English as a Global Language (Springer). My research findings have featured in a large number of newspapers and online media inside and outwith the UK and I have been invited to discuss a range of sociolinguistic issues on both radio and television.

My current research focusses on 2 main strands:

i) I run the Northern Englishes Project which examines implicit and explicit speakers’ perceptions and evaluations of the English speech in the north of England (and extending to Scotland and Northern Ireland) and, relatedly, patterns of linguistic variation and change within northern English, as a supra-local variety. There are a number of funded PhD students attached to the Northern Englishes Project. I am currently conducting a series of in-depth studies investigating implicit-explicit attitude discrepancy (IED) in Northern English and Southern English speech evaluations amongst English nationals and implications for (measuring) language attitude change and language change in progress

ii) I have recently conducted a series of large-scale speech perception studies amongst university students in the UK, Japan, The Philippines and Thailand, comparing and contrasting evaluations and levels of awareness of varieties of spoken English and, in turn, examining the implications for the internationalisation of higher education in these three countries.

My teaching interests are in the areas of sociolinguistics, the social psychology of language and quantitative research methods in (socio)linguistics. I currently teach the postgraduate module Research Methods in Linguistics as well as the undergraduate modules Language and Society and Second Language Acquisition.

Recent reviewer for the following journals: Applied Linguistics (OUP); Higher Education (Springer); International Journal of Applied Linguistics (Wiley-Blackwell); Journal of Language and Social Psychology (Sage); Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development (Routledge); Journal of Pragmatics (Elsevier); Language and Communication (Elsevier); Language in Society (CUP); and Language Learning (Routledge).

Postgraduate Supervision

I have previously supervised a number of Doctoral students in areas of sociolinguistics, social psychology of language and in applied linguistics more widely. I would particularly welcome PhD proposals from individuals intending to conduct folklinguistic research (most especially attitudes towards spoken language variation) as well as research in the areas of variationist sociolinguistics, sociophonetics, the social psychology of language and language and identity more generally.

Current Doctoral students:

Sameeha Alahmadi (lead) The linguistic features of cyber language in Saudi synchronous online chatting

Rachid Khoumikhan (lead) The construction of gender identities through language within Algerian nomadic societies

Judith Taylor (lead) An exploration of language attitudes towards Northern English

Kingsley Ugwuanyi (lead) English and the construction of national identity in Nigeria: An ethnolinguistic investigation

Suhang Xiao (lead) Enhancing Second Language Acquisition in the digital age

Renshuang Song (second) Meta-cognition and phraseological units in communist rhetoric

Sylvia Spanou (second) Conceptual metaphors and image schemata in Jacques Derrida’s 'Deconstruction'


Recent successful completion of Doctoral study:

Theng Theng Ong (lead) Construction of tragedy news in Malaysian and UK newspapers (PhD awarded 2019)

Mumtaz Ali (lead) Willingness to communicate and other motivational factors in SLA (PhD awarded 2018)

Chisato Danjo (lead) A critical ethnographic inquiry into students’ and parents’ linguistic and cultural identities in a Japanese Saturday school (PhD awarded 2015)

Daniel White (lead) English and international cross-cultural attitudes in China, Japan and South Korea (PhD awarded 2013)

Marie Jensen (second) Salience in language: A socio-cognitive study of Tyneside English (PhD awarded 2013)

Luca Miorelli (second) The acquisition of syntax in Italian children: A usage-based approach (PhD awarded 2019)

Key Publications

McKenzie, R.M. and E. Carrie (2018) Implicit-explicit attitudinal discrepancy and the investigation of language attitude change in progress. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 37(9): 830-844 

Carrie, E. and R.M. McKenzie (2018) American or British? L2 speakers’ recognition and evaluations of accent features in English. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 39(4): 313-328. 

McKenzie, R.M. and A. Gilmore (2017) “The people who are out of ‘right’ English”: Japanese university students’ social evaluations of English language diversity and the internationalisation of Japanese higher education. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 152-175.

McKenzie, R.M., P. Kitikanan and P. Boriboon (2016) The competence and warmth of Thai students’ attitudes towards varieties of English: the effect of gender and perceptions of L1 diversity. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 37(6): 536-550.

McKenzie, R.M. (2015) UK University students’ folk perceptions of spoken variation in English: the role of explicit and implicit attitudes. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 236: 31-53.

McKenzie, R.M. (2015) The sociolinguistics of variety identification and categorisation: Free classification of varieties of spoken English amongst non-linguist listeners. Language Awareness 24(2): 150-168. 

McKenzie, R.M. (2015) UK university students’ perceptions of Japanese, ‘local’ and other Asian forms of English speech. In Yamaguchi, M. (Ed.) 世界諸英語の時代のジャパニーズ・イングリッシュ (Japanese English in the era of World Englishes). Kyoto, Japan: Kyoto Prefectural University Press. pp. 3-10.

McKenzie, R.M. (2013) Explicit and implicit attitudes of Japanese university students towards variation in L1 and L2 English. In Y. Terao (Ed.), Japan Society for Language Sciences (JSLS) Conference Handbook, Tokyo, pp. 119-123. PDF

McKenzie, R.M. (2013) Changing perceptions? A variationist sociolinguistic perspective on native speaker ideologies and standard English in Japan. In Houghton, S. and D. Rivers (Eds), Native Speakerism in Japan. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, pp. 219-230. PDF

McKenzie, R.M. and D. Osthus (2011) That which we call a rose by any other name would sound as sweet: Folk perceptions, status and language variation. AILA Review 24: 100-115. PDF

McKenzie, R.M. (2010) Social Psychology of English as a Global Language. Dordrecht/New York: Springer.

McKenzie, R.M. (2008) Social factors and non-native attitudes towards varieties of Spoken English: A Japanese case study. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 18(1): 63-88. PDF

McKenzie, R.M. (2008) The role of variety identification in Japanese university students’ attitudes towards English speech varieties. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 29(2): 139-153. PDF

McKenzie, R.M. (2008) The complex and rapidly changing sociolinguistic position of the English language in Japan: a summary of English language contact and use. Japan Forum 20(2): 267-286. PDF

To view my Northumbria Research Link page click here.

Affiliations and Memberships

Member, Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquee Folklinguistics Research Network (AILA Ren)

Member, Association of South East Asian Studies in the UK (ASEASUK)

Member, British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL)

Member, British Association of Japanese Studies (BAJS)

Member, International Association of Language and Social Psychology (IALSP)

Member, International Association for World Englishes (IAWE)

Funding Awards and Prizes

  • Newton Fund (2018) to attend a researcher networking event in Thailand/to give a series of lectures to Thai researchers on English language variation.
  • The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (2013-2015). International Adviser for ‘English in Japan in the era of World Englishes’ project, Kyoto Prefectural University (No. 2537064)
  • Japan Foundation Endowment Committee (2013-14) to conduct sociolinguistic research into individual differences in Japanese nationals’ attitudes towards language diversity (No. 514 1012)
  • Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation (2012-13) to conduct variationist sociolinguistic research into perceptions of speech in Japan (No. 4058)
  • Arts and Social Sciences Research Fieldwork Grant, Northumbria University (2011-12) to conduct a large-scale folklinguistic study amongst UK university students GEN Foundation (2005-2006) to conduct sociolinguistic research into language attitudes at 12 high-ranking national and private universities in Japan


Northumbria Open Days

Open Days are a great way for you to get a feel of the University, the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the course(s) you are interested in.

Research at Northumbria

Research at Northumbria

Research is the life blood of a University and at Northumbria University we pride ourselves on research that makes a difference; research that has application and affects people's lives.


Order your prospectus

If you would like to know more about our courses, or life in general as a student at Northumbria, then we can help you.

Latest News and Features

More news

Back to top