Language variation and change

Several members of the linguistics research group have expertise in the area of language variation and change, encompassing phonological change, syntactic change, grammaticalization (creation of grammar), lexical and semantic change, prehistory, areal linguistics, linguistic reconstruction, as well as linguistic prescriptivism and purism.

Kate Burridge continues earlier PhD research that focused on the historical development of Dutch. More recently, this research has developed two additional strands; (1) the structure and history of English and (2) grammatical change in the varieties of German spoken by the Plain Anabaptists in North America (specifically the Amish/Mennonite communities in Ontario, Canada). Related research areas also include linguistic purism and taboo as a driver of linguistic change.

Julie Bradshaw is interested in language variation and sociolinguistic aspects of language change, particularly in relation to English.

Howard Manns is interested in language variation and the role of conversational stancetaking in linguistic and social change. He is particularly interested in stance in English and Austronesian and Iranian languages.

Louisa Willoughby is interested in language variation as a marker of identities (ethnic, gendered, sexual etc) and its role in language change.

Alice Gaby is currently interested in the role of pragmatics in shaping grammatical structures, with a particular focus on the tensions between obfuscation, clarity and economy as causes of grammaticalization.

Anna Margetts has been working on morpho-syntactic and semantic change and the emergence of grammar with a focus on Oceanic languages.

Simon Musgrave conducts research on the linguistic prehistory of the area to the north of Australia, with a particular interest in the possibilities of applying computational techniques to historical linguistics.