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.
STANDARD LANGUAGE IDEOLOGY
In my fieldwork, based in a youth-group in East London, I have increasingly encountered narratives of standard language ideology. The speakers I record and work with often describe their language as 'slang' and in opposition to 'standard language' - even though, as linguists, we maintain that the notion of 'standard language' is an ideological construct. In research with Shivonne Gates, we have sought to explore these metacommentaries and evaluations that arise from our interviews with adolescent speakers. We have linked these issues more broadly in terms of a neoliberal agenda that maintains non-standard speech as linguistic 'deficit'. In March 2017, we received funding from the ESRC (~£4000) for an event that brought together academics and educators to discuss the topic of 'language variation in the classroom'. Event details can be found here.
RESOURCES FOR TEACHERS
In recent months, I have been involved in developing resources for those who teach A-level English Language. More information related to these resources can be found here. In February, we're hosting a workshop that aims to introduce these resources and provides handson demonstrations of using them in the classroom. As part of this workshop which I am co-hosting with Devyani Sharma & Jenny Cheshire, I will be giving a talk on 'why the internet isn't ruining language'. More information can be found here.
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 has been accepted subject to revisions.
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).