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School of Language, Social and Political Sciences
New Zealand Institute of Language, Brain & Behaviour
+64 3 3694601
Elsie Locke Building (English) 205
My main research area is sociophonetics, which means that I'm interested in how spoken language varies according to a wide range of geographical and social factors. I mainly focus on accents of New Zealand and of north-west England.There are several strands to my research in phonetics, phonology, and sociolinguistics. My main area of work relates to accent convergence and divergence, both (i) between localities over time (Why do accents from nearby localities begin to converge towards or diverge away from each other? How do linguistic features spread from community to community? And (ii) between speakers in a single interaction (why do some speakers converge with others during conversation as in e.g. phonetic accommodation?)I am also interested in the sociolinguistic salience of linguistic features, including why speakers are more aware of certain features than others, and the extent to which sociolinguistic salience is a deciding factor in accent convergence or divergence. To date, I have tried to tap into sociolinguistic salience in two ways: (i) experimentally, using a website which measures listeners' reactions to audio stimuli in real time (see Watson & Clark 2013 and Watson & Clark 2014), and (ii) using contemporary dialect literature, to shed light on which phonological features are salient enough to be systematically represented in writing (see Honeybone & Watson 2013).