Sam Kirkham

Sam Kirkham

Department of Linguistics and English Language
Lancaster University
phonetics lab  |  my lancaster webpage

I'm Lecturer in Sociophonetics at Lancaster University, based in the Department of Linguistics and English Language and Lancaster University Phonetics Lab.


My research takes place at the intersection between sociolinguistics, phonetics, and language variation and change. My main interest is language variation and identity in English dialects, but I also work on a range of topics within sociolinguistics and phonetics more broadly.

My PhD was a sociolinguistic ethnography of a multiethnic school in Sheffield — I looked at how different kinds of sociophonetic variation are used as stylistic resources and what this might tell us about the nature of sociolinguistic meaning.. In recent research with Emma Moore (Sheffield) I have investigated how social meaning operates across clusters of features that span different linguistic levels, such as phonetics, grammar and discourse. I'm currently carrying out research on sociophonetic variation in North West England (with Claire Nance, Eve Groarke & Beth Littlewood, Lancaster).

I am also interested in varieties that are the product of language contact and bilingualism. I have previously worked on British Asian English and I'm currently continuing this work in an ultrasound study of liquids in Bradford Asian English (with Jessica Wormald, York and JP French Associates). I am also carrying out acoustic-articulatory research on tongue root vowel contrasts in Twi and Ghanaian English (with Claire Nance, Lancaster), as well phonetic and sociolinguistic research on Dutch Burgher English (with Luke Harding & Claire Nance, Lancaster).


Kirkham, Sam. forthcoming. Ethnicity and phonetic variation in Sheffield English liquids. Journal of the International Phonetic Association. [ pre-print ]

Kirkham, Sam & Emma Moore. 2016. Constructing social meaning in political discourse: Phonetic variation and verb processes in Ed Miliband's speeches. Language in Society 45(1): 87-111. [ doi | pdf ]

Kirkham, Sam. 2016. Constructing multiculturalism at school: Negotiating tensions in talk about ethnic diversity. Discourse & Society 27(4). [ doi | pdf ]

Kirkham, Sam. 2015. Intersectionality and the social meanings of variation: Class, ethnicity, and social practice. Language in Society 44(5): 629-652. [ doi | pdf ]

Kirkham, Sam. 2011. Personal style and epistemic stance in classroom discussion. Language and Literature 20(3): 201-217. [ doi | pdf ]


Nance, Claire, Sam Kirkham & Eve Groarke. forthcoming. Studying intonational variation in varieties of English: Gender and individual variation in Liverpool. In: Natalie Braber & Sandra Jansen (eds) Sociolinguistics in England. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kirkham, Sam. forthcoming. Urban communities of practice. In: Beatrix Busse & Ingo H. Warnke (eds) Language in Urban Space. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. [ pre-print ]

Kirkham, Sam & Alison Mackey. 2016. Research, relationships and reflexivity: Reflections on two case studies of language and identity. In: Peter De Costa (ed.) Ethics in Applied Linguistics Research: Language Researcher Narratives. London: Routledge, pp. 103-120. [ pre-print | book ]

Kirkham, Sam & Jessica Wormald. 2015. Acoustic and articulatory variation in British Asian English liquids. Proceedings of the XVIII International Congress of Phonetic Sciences 1-5. [ pdf ]

Nance, Claire, Sam Kirkham & Eve Groarke. 2015. Intonational variation in Liverpool English. Proceedings of the XVIII International Congress of Phonetic Sciences 1-5. [ pdf ]

Kirkham, Sam & Emma Moore. 2013. Adolescence. In: J.K. Chambers & Natalie Schilling (eds) The Handbook of Language Variation and Change. Second edition. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 277-296.
[ doi | pdf | pre-print ]

Kirkham, Sam. 2011. The acoustics of coronal stops in British Asian English. Proceedings of the XVII International Congress of Phonetic Sciences 1102-1105. [ pdf ]


Kirkham, Sam. 2013. Ethnicity, social practice and phonetic variation in a Sheffield secondary school. University of Sheffield PhD dissertation. [ link | pdf ]


I play percussion, concertina and manodlin, as well as a little piano and guitar. I am particularly interested in the folk music of England and beyond.

In terms of regular ongoing bands, I currently play with Sheffield-based The Hobo Conspiracy, which is an 8-piece folk-rock band. I am also working on a multimedia song cycle with Derek Meins (formerly of Eastern Lane and The Agitator), as well as some other stuff that will hopefully come to fruition soon. I sometimes play drums in the Lancaster Linguistics Department band (The Fauxnemes).

I previously played drums and accordion with Who Killed The Cranks?, piano with Rebecca Watson, percussion with Just Jodi, and percussion and keyboards with Sam Browse.