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 investigates sociophonetic variation and speech production using acoustic and articulatory methods. The majority of my research focuses on phonetic variation in language contact varieties.

Speech articulation and language contact
(Funding: Lancaster Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences 2014; Lancaster LAEL R&D Fund 2015)
One of my main interests is speech production and phonological contrast in varieties that are the product of language contact. My ongoing work investigates this via ultrasound tongue imaging of bilingual speakers. This involves studies of British Asian English liquids with Jessica Wormald, and a study of advanced tongue root in Twi (Akan) and Ghanaian English vowels with Claire Nance (RA: Ruby Miller).

Sociophonetic variation in accents of English
(Funding: AHRC Doctoral Award 2009-12; Lancaster SPRINT award 2014; Lancaster FASS Research Fund 2015-16)
Most of my research to date has focused on sociophonetic variation, with a particular focus on how variation is used to achieve social goals. My PhD (Sheffield, 2009-13) examined how adolescents in a multiethnic school use variation in stops, liquids and vowels as a form of social practice. I have also studied how phonetic variation works in tandem with verb processes in constructing a persona in political discourse (with Emma Moore). My ongoing research looks at phonetic and phonological variation in intonation in North West England (with Claire Nance; RAs: Beth Littlewood, 2015; Eve Groarke, 2014), and I am also working with Luke Harding on a sociophonetic study of Dutch Burgher English, which is an interesting contact variety that developed in Sri Lanka.

Articulatory phonetics and speech production
(Funding: Lancaster FASS Research Fund 2013-15)
In addition to my ultrasound research on language contact varieties, I also have a more general interest in the relationship between speech articulation, motor control and language. To this end, I am currently working with Agnes Henson on a perturbation study of articulatory adaptation under different kinds of feedback.


-- under review (selected) --

Kirkham, Sam. resubmitted. Ethnicity and phonetic variation in Sheffield English liquids.

-- forthcoming --

Kirkham, Sam & Emma Moore. forthcoming 2016. Constructing social meaning in political discourse: Phonetic variation and verb processes in Ed Miliband's speeches. Language in Society 45(1).

Kirkham, Sam & Alison Mackey. forthcoming 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.

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

Nance, Claire, Sam Kirkham & Eve Groarke. forthcoming. Sociophonetic variation in intonation: Phonetics and phonology of Liverpool English. In: Natalie Braber & Sandra Jansen (eds) Sociolinguistics in England. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

-- 2015 --

Kirkham, Sam. forthcoming 2015. Intersectionality and the social meanings of variation: Class, ethnicity, and social practice. Language in Society 44(5).

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

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

-- 2013 --

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 ]

-- 2011 --

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 ]


Kirkham, Sam. 2015. The dance of the tongue: Using ultrasound to study tongue movements in language contact varieties. Invited talk at University of Huddersfield, UK.

Kirkham, Sam. 2015. Speech articulation and language contact: Phonetics, phonology, sociolinguistics. Invited talk at Queen Mary University of London, UK.

Mackey, Alison, Jenefer Philp, Yasser Teimorian, Alroumi Abdulla, Ting Zhao, Wenjing Li, Patrick Rebuschat & Sam Kirkham. 2015. The relationships amongst working memory, cognitive creativity and second language production during communicative tasks. Sixth International Conference on Task-Based Language Teaching, Leuven, Belgium.

Kirkham, Sam & Jessica Wormald. 2015. Articulatory variation in a contact variety: Liquids in British Asian English. UKLVC10, York, UK.

Kirkham, Sam & Jessica Wormald. 2015. Acoustic and articulatory variation in British Asian English liquids. 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Glasgow, UK.

Nance, Claire, Sam Kirkham & Eve Groarke. 2015. Intonational variation in Liverpool English. 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Glasgow, UK.

Wormald, Jessica & Sam Kirkham. 2015. Articulation, audition and acoustics: An ultrasound tongue imaging study. 24th Annual Conference of the International Association for Forensic Phonetics and Acoustics, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Kirkham, Sam & Jessica Wormald. 2015. An ultrasound study of language contact in Bradford English liquids. ICLaVE8, Leipzig, Germany.

Kirkham, Sam. 2015. Boundaries and intersections: Class, ethnicity and identity in a multiethnic school. 8th International Conference on Language Variation in Europe, Germany [invited talk in panel on communities of practice].


I am happy to supervise students who would like to do interesting research in sociophonetics, phonetics and/or speech production, particularly in the areas covered by my current research interests. My PhD students include:


I am a musician and play drums, guitar and keyboards. I currently play organ in Sheffield-based The Hobo Conspiracy, which is a rootsy folk-rock band, as well as drums in The Fauxnemes, which is the Lancaster Linguistics Department band.

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