The Accentism Project
This is a project aimed at raising awareness of language-based prejudice and discrimination. At the moment we are simply inviting people to share their stories and experiences of linguistic prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping. It is run by me and Dr Amanda Cole (University of Essex). The project site is at accentism.org, and on Twitter at @AccentismProj.
Manchester Voices is a public-facing research project which explores the rich tapestry of accents, dialects, and identities that make up Greater Manchester. The research seeks to help us understand the ways in which our use of language makes us who we are. It also aims to uncover the underlying perceptions of the various accents of the ten boroughs of the county. The research is being carried out with Dr Holly Dann and Dr Sarah Tasker (also previously Dr Sadie Ryan and Dr Erin Carrie). Details can be found here at manchestervoices.org. The research is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
UrBEn-ID – Urban British English and Identity (focusing on youth language)
In 2014 I was awarded a Leverhulme Trust project grant which allowed me to continue the work I initially started with a MMU research accelerator grant, and then continued in 2013 during a period of research leave, into the speech of adolescents in Manchester, especially those who are educated in Pupil Referral Units.
The project involved the appointment of a two year full-time post doctoral research associate, Dr Susan Dray, who joined me in collecting ethnographic and speech data from Pupil Referral Units and a mainstream school in Manchester. It is hoped that the findings will raise awareness of the changing nature of young urban speech, highlighting the fact that many of its salient features are predictable results of the context in which it is used and acquired. In addition, the project will explore the ways in which particular linguistic features are used in the construction and negotiation of identities among young people, while at the same time looking at the extent to which speakers are able to style-shift between language varieties. Details here.
A book about the project was published in March 2018: Researching Urban Youth Language and Identity.
The Manchester Centre for Youth Studies
I am a founding member and Head of Youth Language at the Manchester Centre for Youth Studies. The centre brings together researchers from across the university – including the humanities, social sciences and education – to explore how the meanings, experiences and representations of youth have changed over time. Historically, children and young people have been seen as a source of concern for the media, politicians and academics. MCYS aims to examine the competing conceptualisations of childhood and youth, and provides an opportunity to develop novel perspectives and new approaches to historical and contemporary understandings of the area by encouraging opportunities to compare and contrast trends, regionally, nationally and internationally in a variety of contexts. The Centre comprises academics from across a wide range of disciplines including: Sociology, Criminology, History, Linguistics, English and Education. Our vision is to become a focus of excellence for research on youth across a range of disciplines. Our strength and distinctiveness grow out of these inter-disciplinary relationships.
I am a regular contributor to Academic Archers – a group of Academics who explore the BBC Radio 4 drama through the lenses of their various disciplines.
In 2011 I launched a new project looking at the association between vowel and colour perception. I’m trying to find firstly if people are indeed able to identify different vowels with different colours, and then look into whether people’s accents have an effect on the nature of this association.
Some preliminary findings were presented at the BAAP Colloquium in Leeds in March 2012 (pdf copy of poster here), and when I have some time I will write up the rest of the results.
My PhD research looked at the acquisition of local accent features by native Polish speakers living in Manchester.