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 interests include phonetics, sociolinguistics, and language variation and change. My research mainly focuses on sociophonetic variation in language contact varieties and multiethnic communities, but I also work on a range of topics within sociolinguistics and phonetics more broadly.

Most of my research falls into two closely-related strands. The first strand examines the social meanings and stylistic potential of sociolinguistic variation. My PhD was a sociophonetic ethnography of a multiethnic school in Sheffield – I looked at how different kinds of variation are used as stylistic resources and what this might tell us about the nature of sociolinguistic meaning. I have also done research on discourse and identity in multiethnic communities, as well as how social meaning operates across clusters of features that span different linguistic levels, such as phonetics, grammar and discourse (with Emma Moore, Sheffield). I am currently further developing my ideas in this area, with particular attention to the role of intersectionality and style in sociolinguistic meaning.

The other major strand of my research investigates phonetic variation and phonological contrast in varieties that are the product of language contact and bilingualism. To this end, I am currently working on two articulatory sociophonetics projects using ultrasound tongue imaging: a study of liquids in British Asian English (with Jessica Wormald, York and JP French Associates), and a study of tongue root vowel contrasts in Twi and Ghanaian English (with Claire Nance, Lancaster). I am also involved in phonetic research on Dutch Burgher English, which is a contact variety that originally developed in Sri Lanka, then Ceylon (with Luke Harding & Claire Nance, Lancaster).

Other ongoing research includes some studies on stops and intonational variation in North West England (with Claire Nance, Eve Groarke & Beth Littlewood, Lancaster), as well research on articulatory adaptation and auditory feedback (with Max Topps, Lancaster & Agnes Henson, Leeds Beckett).


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. [ 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): 383-400. [ 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. Personal style and epistemic stance in classroom discussion. Language and Literature 20(3): 201-217. [ doi | 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 ]


Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my partner and two cats, reading, running, cycling, paddleboarding, exploring the amazing local countryside, and playing music (drums, guitar, a bit of piano and concertina).

In terms of music, I am currently working on a multimedia song cycle with Derek Meins (formerly of Eastern Lane and The Agitator). I also play keyboards with Sheffield-based The Hobo Conspiracy, which is an 8-piece folk-rock band, as well as drums in The Fauxnemes (the Lancaster Linguistics Department band).

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