Honorary & Retired staff
+44(0) 113 343 4740
My primary research interests are in regional and social English dialectal variation, and I teach undergraduate modules in both of these branches of dialectology. Besides the facts of dialectal difference, and the means by which it is studied, relevant issues in the discipline include the relationship of standard and non-standard dialects, attitudes to variation, and the mechanisms of language change.
I have been closely involved with the Survey of English Dialects (SED) for forty years, since I acted as research assistant to Professor Harold Orton. SED, the only systematic survey of the dialects of England yet to be carried out, was begun at Leeds by Harold Orton (d.1975) and Eugen Dieth in 1948, and was for many years continued at Sheffield by John Widdowson, with whom I enjoy close collaboration. I also have close links with David Parry's Survey of Anglo-Welsh Dialects (SAWD), having been one of its first fieldworkers (1968-70): this survey is now directed by Rob Penhallurick, another of my close colleagues.
The Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture (LAVC)
In 2005, with Dr Oliver Pickering, then of the Brotherton Library, I completed work on The Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture (LAVC) Project, which was funded by a major Resource Enhancement grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. As a result of this work, a detailed catalogue of the collections of the former Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies of the University, which was dissolved in the early 1980s, has been made available electronically, with the material itself held for consultation in the Special Collections of the Library. The full potential of the Archive is thus available for linguists, historians, and others in the research community with interests in the speech, customs, beliefs and practices of traditional British communities.
The conference of the LAVC project was held in March 2005, attended by delegates from universities and academic and municipal libraries and archives nationwide. The final report on the Archive project was accepted as 'Outstanding' by the AHRC, and on completion the project was selected as one of five nationally for audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Research Council's report to Government.
Much of my most recent language-variation research has centred on the output from the British Broadcasting Corporation's 'Voices', a major data-collecting and broadcasting initiative of 2004-5 for which I acted as the BBC's first academic point of contact and fieldworker trainer. This involvement resulted in my having access to a large body of professionally-gathered data on vernacular speech, and in my consequent involvement in two large-scale research projects. I led a team, first assembled by Sally Johnson and me, which in 2007 received funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to analyse the materials contained on the project's BBC website: this undertaking, entitled 'Whose Voices?: Language ideological debates on the interactive website of the BBC Voices project', finished its analyses in 2011, and a related book and website are now in preparation, to be published by Routledge.
'Whose Voices?' featured as one of ten research projects in the British Academy publication Past Present and Future: The Public Value of the Humanities and Social Sciences, submitted to Parliament in June 2010.
I was also pleased to be closely involved, with British Library colleagues, in the award of a major grant by The Leverhulme Trust for further analysis of 'Voices' output, this time concerning the 700+ hours of sound recordings collected by BBC journalists working on the project. This research, 'Voices of the UK', has been carried out in London under the direction of Jonnie Robinson (formerly of the LAVC team), and I (with Penhallurick and others) served on the project's Advisory Committee until its conclusion in February 2012.
I was closely involved with British Library colleagues in 'Evolving English' 2010-11, the Library's most successful winter exhibition to date, which featured our shared dialect materials. As a result of BBC 'Voices' research, a large new recorded speech resource is now being made available alongside other British Library holdings, which already include substantial material from SED.
Dictionary Pronunciation of English
The accent of British English which is presented in dictionaries is usually known as Received Pronunciation, or simply RP. Like other accents, RP is subject to variation and change: I am responsible for the description of a modern RP model which has been adopted by the latest Oxford English Dictionaries of Oxford University Press, including the iconic Oxford English Dictionary (OED), for which I act as pronunciation consultant. Some of the dictionaries currently displaying this model, other than OED, are The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (editions from 1993 on),The Concise Oxford Dictionary (editions from 1995 on), and The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998, 2003)
In addition, I am the British author for a joint British and American pronouncing dictionary, The Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English (2001), a paperback edition of which appeared in 2003. This book is the result of my collaboration with Professor William A. Kretzschmar and Rafal Konopka of the University of Georgia, USA. Also in the area of English sounds is my Oxford Rhyming Dictionary (2004), written with my son Eben.
In 2005 I completed a six-year term as member of the Steering Committee of the International Conferences on Methods in Dialectology (the 'Methods' series), and in August 2008 hosted the thirteenth conference in the series, Methods XIII, when more than two hundred dialect scholars from twenty-five countries spent a week discussing the subject of linguistic variation.
I am Chair of the National Committee for England and Wales of the European linguistic atlas Atlas Linguarum Europae, and a Council Member of the Yorkshire Dialect Society, Britain's oldest dialect organization.
My most recent invitations to speak on language variation at conferences or to research groups have included those from the Finnish-British Society and Department of English (Helsinki), the Royal Geographical Society, and the University of Innsbruck.
I have recently given keynote addresses at the annual conferences of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and the National Association for the Teaching of English and the National Association for the Teaching of English and Other Community Languages (NATECLA). I am to deliver a keynote address at a conference of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna in July this year.
I frequently broadcast on English Language issues. My most recent broadcast was on the BBC Radio 4 programme Word of Mouth on 3 April 2012 (re-broadcast 9 April), when the subject under discussion with Michael Rosen was 'The Queen's Speech'.
Some of my publications are listed here
Books, book chapters, and book contributions
Forthcoming 2013. Analysing 21st-century British English: Conceptual and methodological aspects of the BBC 'Voices' project. London: Routledge [ed., with Bethan Davies]
Forthcoming 2013. Dialect Dictionaries. In Philip Durkin, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Lexicography. Oxford: Oxford University Press
At press. An Evolving Standard British English Pronunciation Model. In Raymond Hickey, ed. Standards of English: Codified Varieties around the World. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press
2012. The importance of being Janus: Midland speakers and the "North-South Divide". In Manfred Markus, Yoko Iyeiri, Reinhard Heuberger, and Emil Chamson, eds. Middle and Modern English Corpus Linguistics: A Multi-dimensional Approach. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 257-268
2010. Joseph Wright's English Dialect Dictionary and Beyond. Frankfurt am Main : Peter Lang [ed., with Manfred Markus and Reinhard Heuberger]
2010. Proceedings of Methods XIII: Papers from the Thirteenth International Conference on Methods in Dialectology, 2008. Bamberger Beiträge zur Englischen Sprachwissenschaft 54. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang [ed., with Barry Heselwood]
2010. 'Designing maps for non-Linguists', in Alfred Lameli, Roland Kehrein, and Stefan Rabanus (eds), An International Handbook of Linguistic Variation, Volume 2: Language Mapping. Berlin : De Gruyter Mouton, 142-157
2010. Language ideological debates on the BBC 'Voices' website: hypermodality in theory and practice. In Sally Johnson and Tommaso Milani, eds. Language Ideologies and Media Discourse: Texts, Practices, Politics. London : Continuum, 223-251 [with Sally Johnson and Tommaso Milani]
2008. Varieties of English 1: The British Isles . Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter [ed., with Bernd Kortmann]
2008. 'Received Pronunciation', in Bernd Kortmann and Clive Upton (eds), Varieties of English 1: The British Isles. Berlin : Mouton de Gruyter, 269-282
2008. 'Whose Voices?: A hypermodal approach to language ideological debates on the BBC 'Voices' website. Centre for Language and Social Life, Lancaster University : Working Paper 127 [with Sally Johnson and Tomasso Milani]
2006 'Modern Regional English', in Lynda Mugglestone (ed.), The Oxford History of the English Language. Oxford : Oxford University Press
2006. An Atlas of English Dialects. 2nd edn. London : Routledge [with J.D.A.Widdowson].
2005. 'Modelling RP: a variationist case', in Katarzyna Dziubalska-Kolaczky and Joanna Przedlacka (eds), English Pronunciation Models: A Changing Scene. Linguistic Insights Series. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 409-420 [with Lawrence M. Davis and Charles L.Houck]
2004. A Handbook of Varieties of English: A Multimedia Reference Tool. 2 volumes plus CD-Rom. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter [ed., with edgar Schneider, Kate Burridge, Bernd Kortmann, and Rajend Mesthrie
2004. 'Received Pronunciation', in Edgar W. Schneider, Kate Burridge, Bernd Kortmann, and Rajend Mesthrie, and Clive Upton (eds). A Handbook of Varieties of English: A Multimedia Reference Tool. 2 volumes plus CD-Rom. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter
2004. The Oxford Rhyming Dictionary. Oxford : Oxford University Press [with Eben Upton]
2001. The Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English . Oxford : Oxford University Press [with W.A. Kretzschmar Jr and Rafal Konopka]
2000. 'Maintaining the Standard', in Robert Penhallurick (ed.) Debating Dialect: Essays on the Philosophy of Dialect Study, 66-83. Cardiff : University of Wales Press
2000 on. Pronunciation system for British English, The Oxford English Dictionary 3rd Edition (publication online http://dictionary.oed.com)
1999. Dialectal Variation in English: Proceedings of the Harold Orton Centenary Conference 1998. Leeds Studies in English New Series Vol. 30, 1999 [ed., with Katie Wales]
1999. Lexical Erosion in English Regional Dialects . NATCECT Occasional Publications, No. 7. Sheffield : National Centre for English Cultural Tradition [with J.D.A Widdowson]
1999. ' Sheffield dialect in the 1990s: revisiting the concept of NORMs', in Paul Foulkes and Gerard Docherty (eds), Urban Voices: Accent Studies in the British Isles , 72-89. London : Edward Arnold [with Jana Stoddart and J.D.A. Widdowson]
1999. Pronunciation system, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English , 10th edn. Oxford : Clarendon Press
1998. Pronunciation system, The New Oxford Dictionary of English . Oxford : Clarendon Press
1997. Yorkshire Words Today. NATCECT Occasional Publications, No. 6. Sheffield: Yorkshire Dialect Society and the National Centre for English Cultural Tradition [with David Paynter and J.D.A. Widdowson]
1996. An Atlas of English Dialects . Oxford : Oxford University Press [with J.D.A. Widdowson]
1995. 'Mixing and Fudging in Midland and Southern Dialects of England: the cup and foot vowels', in Jack Windsor Lewis (ed), Studies in General and English Phonetics: Essays in Honour of Professor J.D. O'Connor , 385-394. London : Routledge
1994. Survey of English Dialects: The Dictionary and Grammar . London : Routledge [with David Parry and J.D.A. Widdowson]
1993. Pronunciation system and pronunciations, The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary . Oxford : Clarendon Press. (Also NSOED CD-ROM.)
1987. Word Maps: A Dialect Atlas of England . London : Croom Helm, 1987 [with Stewart Sanderson and J.D.A. Widdowson]
Papers and articles
Forthcoming. Geographical Analysis of the Vernacular. Journal of Information Science [with John Holliday, Ann Thompson, Jonathan Robinson, and Paul Norman]
2009. 'Mind the Quality, Feel the Width: tolerance(s) in Standard English. Language Issues 20, 2, 26-32
2004. ' Leeds 1966: Some early evidence of "new RP"?', Leeds Working Papers in Linguistics and Phonetics 10, 32-39 [with Lawrence M.Davis and Charles L. Houck]
2001. Revisiting RP, in Malcolm Jones, (ed). Essays in Lore and Language: Presented to John Widdowson on the Occasion of His Retirement, 351-368. Sheffield : National Centre for English Cultural Tradition
2000. 'Sett out verry eairrly Wensdy: the Spelling and Grammar in the Lewis and Clark Journals', American Speech 75.2, 137-48 [with Lawrence M. Davis and Charles L. Houck]
2000. '[hat], [hæt], and all that', English Today 61 Vol. 16, No. 1, 44-46 [with Edmund Weiner]
1999. 'The first SuRE moves: early steps towards a large dialect database', in Clive Upton and Katie Wales (eds), Dialectal Variation in English: Proceedings of the Harold Orton Centenary Conference 1998. Leeds Studies in English Vol. 30 [with Paul Kerswill and Carmen Llamas]
1999. 'Dialectology into the Twenty-first Century: the surveying continues', Transactions of the Yorkshire Dialect Society Pt XCIX, Vol. XIX, 20-24
1999. 'Two Large-Scale and Long-Term Language Variation Surveys: a Retrospective and a Plan', Cuadernos de Filología Inglesa 8. Variation and Linguistic Change in English: Diachronic and Synchronic Studies , 291-304 [with Carmen Llamas]
1999. Review of The Peacock Lincolnshire Word Books, 1884-1920 , Max Peacock et al., edited by Eileen Elder (Scunthorpe Museum Society, 1997). Journal of the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology. , n.p.
1998. 'Celebrating Variation: Harold Orton and Dialectology, 1898-1998', English Today 56 Vol. 14, No. 4, 27-33 [with Katie Wales]
1997. 'The Question of Dialect Boundaries: The SED and the American Atlases', in Alan Thomas (ed), Current Methods in Dialectology: Proceedings of the Methods IX International Conference on Dialectology, Bangor , 1996 , 271-283. Bangor : University of Wales Bangor [with Lawrence M. Davis and Charles L. Houck]
1997. Review of Speech Past and Present: Studies in English Dialectology in Memory of Ossi Ihalainen , edited by Juhani Klemola, Merja Kytö, and Matti Rissanen (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1996). Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 1 XCVIII 1997, 89-93
1994. Dialect Words: what are they, and what can we do with them?', Transactions of the Yorkshire Dialect Society Pt XCIV, Vol. XVIII, 16-27. Reprinted in Arnold Kellett and Ian Dewhirst (eds). 1997. A Century of Yorkshire Dialect , 212-220. Otley: Smith Settle
1994. Lexis and Material Culture: Methodology and Misgivings', in Gunnel Melchers and Nils-Lennart Johannesson (eds), Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis , Stockholm Studies in English LXXXIV. Nonstandard Varieties of Language: Papers from the Stockholm Symposium, 11-13 April, 1991 , 186-197. Stockholm : Almqvist and Wiksell International
1993. 'Design for the Dictionary of the Survey of English Dialects', in Wolfgang Viereck (ed), Proceedings of the International Congress of Dialectologists, Bamberg 29.7.-4.8.1990, Volume 2: Historical Dialectology and Linguistic Change , 519-528. Stuttgart : Franz Steiner Verlag