Kevin Watson

Associate Head of SchoolKevin Watson

Linguistics Head of Department
Locke Building (English) 205
Internal Phone: 94601

Qualifications & Memberships

Research Interests

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).

Recent Publications

  • Honeybone P., Watson KD. and van Eyndhoven S. (2017) Lenition and T-to-R are differently salient: The representation of competing realisations of /t/ in Liverpool English dialect literature. In Hancil S; Beal J (Ed.), Perspectives on Northern Englishes: 83-110. Berlin: De Gruyter.
  • Watson KD. and Clark L. (2017) The Origins of Liverpool English. In Hickey R (Ed.), Listening to the Past: Audio Records of Accents of English: 114-141. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Watson KD. and Papp V. (2017) Exploring the Canterbury Earthquakes using automated topic analysis. University of Bristol, UK: iMean, 6-8 Apr 2017
  • Clark L. and Watson K. (2016) Phonological leveling, diffusion, and divergence: /t/ lenition in Liverpool and its hinterland. Language Variation and Change 28(1): 31-62.
  • Culpeper J., Johnson DE. and Watson KD. (2016) Multimodal requests and (im)politeness: The perception of directness, prosody and power. Manchester, UK: Linguistic Im/politeness, Aggression and Rudeness Conference (LIAR), 12-14 Jul 2016