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 current research investigates phonetic variation and phonological contrast in varieties that are the product of language contact and bilingualism. This typically involves a combination of acoustic phonetics, ultrasound tongue imaging, and fieldwork. I am currently working on an ultrasound study of liquids in British Asian English (with Jessica Wormald, York and JP French Associates), and an acoustic-articulatory study of tongue root vowel contrasts in Akan and Ghanaian English (with Claire Nance, Lancaster). I am also involved in a phonetic description of Dutch Burgher English, which is a contact variety that developed in what is now modern-day Sri Lanka (with Luke Harding & Claire Nance, Lancaster).

I also do research on the social meanings of phonetic variation in multiethnic and high-contact communities. My PhD was a sociophonetic ethnography of a multiethnic school in the UK, focusing on how adolescents use phonetic variation as a form of social practice. As part of the same project, I also looked at discourses of multiculturalism and diversity amongst high school students. In subsequent research with Emma Moore (Sheffield), I have analysed the 'linguistically-layered' nature of sociolinguistic style, which involved charting the relationship between phonetics, grammar and discourse strategies in constructing a persona in political discourse.


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

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.

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 & 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. 2015. Intersectionality and the social meanings of variation: Class, ethnicity, and social practice. Language in Society 44(5): 629-652. [ doi | 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. 2013. Ethnicity, social practice and phonetic variation in a Sheffield secondary school. University of Sheffield PhD dissertation. [ link | pdf ]

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


Roy Alderton: Language, identity and speech perception (funded by Lancaster FASS Postgraduate Scholarship; co-supervised with Claire Nance)

Ozgur Parlak: An interactionist approach to the acquisition of prosody (co-supervised with Alison Mackey & Jen Philp)

Max Topps: Tongue dynamics in speech production (funded by ESRC 1+3 scholarship; co-supervised with Claire Nance)


Outside of work I play a lot of music (drums and piano).

I am currently involved in developing a multimedia song cycle with Derek Meins (formerly of Eastern Lane and The Agitator). In addition to this, I play keyboards (organ and piano) in Sheffield-based The Hobo Conspiracy, which is an 8-piece folk-rock band that sounds a bit like a cross between Fairport Convention and Deep Purple. I also 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.