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. I studied at the University of Sheffield, where I took courses in linguistics, literature, philosophy, and computer science – I was awarded my PhD in Linguistics from Sheffield in 2014. I'm also a musician.

I am interested in the human voice and its potential for communication, identity, and meaning. My research approaches this issue via a combination of acoustic and articulatory phonetics, variationist and interactional sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, and ethnographic fieldwork. Most of my current work focuses on British Asian communities in the north of England.

Phonetic variation and language contact
(Funding: AHRC Doctoral Award 2009-12; Lancaster FASS 2014; Lancaster LAEL R&D Fund 2015)
I am interested in phonetic variation and phonological contrast in varieties that are the product of language contact and bilingualism. I am currently investigating phonetic and phonological variation in contact varieties via ultrasound tongue imaging of bilingual speakers. This involves studies of British Asian English liquids with Jessica Wormald, and a study of Twi (Akan) and Ghanaian English with Claire Nance. Other ongoing research includes a phonetic description of Dutch Burgher English, which is spoken by an ethnic group in Sri Lanka, many of whom now live in Australia (with Luke Harding & Claire Nance).

Language, voice, and identity
(Funding: AHRC Doctoral Award 2009-12)
My research also investigates how people deploy linguistic variation and discourse strategies to do identity work. My PhD was a sociolinguistic ethnography of a multiethnic school and looked at how adolescents use phonetic variation to index local identities. More recently, I have investigated how secondary school students do identity work in talk about ethnic diversity, as well as how phonetic variation works in tandem with verb processes in constructing a persona in political discourse (with Emma Moore).


Publications are open access under a CC-BY license where possible (marked below as *open access*)

-- Journal articles --

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

Kirkham, Sam. forthcoming 2016. Constructing multiculturalism at school: Negotiating tensions in talk about ethnic diversity. Discourse & Society 27(4). [ pre-print ] *open access*

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). [ FirstView version | pre-print ]

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

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

-- Proceedings --

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 ] *open access*

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

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

-- Book chapters --

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.

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 & 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 ]

-- PhD thesis --

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


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


I am a musician. I play drums, keyboards, and computers (mainly via Max/M4L).

My main project at the moment is a collaborative multimedia song cycle that deals with themes of surveillance and data. More info coming soon! I also 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. Finally, I play drums in the Lancaster Linguistics Department band (The Fauxnemes) every now and again.

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.