Although social media is ubiquitous, variationist sociolinguistics has yet to seriously integrate social media data into analyses of language variation and change. My PhD research aims to integrate CMC and variationist perspectives, in studying what social media can tell us about the social meaning of variation in the speech community, taking a third-wave approach.
I completed a 12 month ethnography (2016-2017) at a youth group in East London, collecting self-recordings, interview and social media data (largely Snapchat) from individuals. I am currently examining a range of features (e.g., TH-stopping, 'innit', pronoun 'man') in the data, applying a traditional variationist analysis of the variation. By using over 350 snapchat stories, I intend to combine the social media data with the spoken language data to explore the social meaning of these features, thereby integrating social media data into the variationist paradigm.
Whilst computational methodologies are increasingly being integrated into sociolinguistic analyses of language variation and change, it remains to be answered as to what extent stylistic variation poses an issue for such methods. Whilst in traditional variationist analyses of speech the researcher, in circumscribing the variable context, removes instances of stylistic variation, in macro-scale computational approaches to orthographic variation this is not possible.
In this line of work, I have been exploring how users do not simply represent their own linguistic system but also appropriate enregistered features of specific styles to deploy personae and related characterlogical figures. My main focus here has been on the use of AAVE (African American Vernacular Features) by White, British-born and residing, gay men. To find out more about this research, please visit my academia page. This paper is currently under revision.
I am a research assistant on the project '"Múin Béarla do na Leanbháin" 'Teach the Children English' Migration as a Prism for Viewing Ethnolinguistic Vitality in Northern Ireland (PI: Professor Karen Corrigan, Newcastle). The project addresses the socio-cultural and linguistic impact on Northern Ireland of its changing population. It also compares the experiences of contemporary immigrants with those of Northern Irish emigrants who themselves fled abroad in response to historical conflicts, famine and economic depressions.
My main role is data extraction, coding and (statistical) analysis. Thus far, we have analysed the following variables; quotatives, relative clauses and the verb phrase (epistemic knowledge).