SEL8513 : Variation and the Grammar

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module explores the phonological, phonetic and sociolinguistic features of variation, and how we can account for such variation in the phonological grammar. We'll be looking at the particular sounds which differentiate varieties of English and other languages, and how to identify linguistic and social factors which may play a role in shaping this variation. Each week, we'll focus on a different aspect of accent, including particular sounds, phonological processes, and aspects of accent spoken in particular geographical areas. We'll be using advanced quantitative methods to look at variation in particular accents, as well as phonetic tools available in linguistics. Students will be learning how to use the statistical software package R.

Outline Of Syllabus

- Phonology and socio-historical overview of language change
- Vowels: lexical sets, monophthongs and diphthongs, shifts, splits and mergers
- Liquids: rhoticity and other realisations of /r/, realisations of /l/
- Theoretical impact of sociophonetic variation
- Acquisition of sociophonetic variation
- Language change across the lifespan

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion821:0082:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading821:0082:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The mix of teaching methods is geared towards developing knowledge of key theoretical concepts in lecture, whilst delivering quantitative and analytical led-teaching in the seminars.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research paper1A100Final research project of 4000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The write-up of their final project will test students' ability to come up with their own analysis of a variable of interest, and show independent research and interpretation of their findings.

Reading Lists