LING310-17S1 (C) Semester One 2017

New Zealand English

30 points, 0.2500 EFTS
20 Feb 2017 - 25 Jun 2017

This occurrence is not offered


The entire history of New Zealand English can be tracked in the Origin of New Zealand English corpus (ONZE), housed at the University of Canterbury. Using this extensive collection of spoken language, we can compare the accents of the very earliest New Zealand born settlers to those of contemporary speakers, to examine how New Zealand English has changed. This allows us to answer interesting questions not only about New Zealand English but also about language change in general. This course has a practical focus which will provide hands-on experience in the analysis of New Zealand English. Students are trained in sociolinguistic methodology and in how to use the ONZE corpus, and are given the opportunity to conduct their own piece of research on language variation and/or change in New Zealand.

Are you interested in how language varies? Are you interested in New Zealand English? Do you want to do real research, with the potential to be published in an academic journal?

This course is about variation in language. Using New Zealand English as a testing ground, students work on their own research projects (designed with help from Kevin Watson). Students are taught how to come up with interesting questions, and how to answer them by analysing data and connecting to the wider literature on New Zealand English. We always encourage the best work to be submitted to the New Zealand English Journal for possible publication.

We typically use data from the ONZE (Origins of New Zealand English) corpus, which holds audio recordings from the very earliest speakers of New Zealand English, or the QuakeBox corpus, which is a database of audio and video recordings of Canterbury ‘earthquake stories’. These are unique resources which are being used by researchers to answer key questions in sociolinguistics.

The course is excellent preparation for postgraduate research, such as the Master of Linguistics, and for anyone wishing to work as a research assistant for the NZILBB.

Because students produce a piece of real research, the course provides many ways in which you can demonstrate the skills you have developed (e.g. to future employers). Those skills include: management of large datasets (“big data”), quantitative analysis using spreadsheets and R (R is the fast becoming the industry standard for big data work, not just in Linguistics), and seeking out and synthesising information from key literature (in your literature review), and more.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will

1. understand how to analyse variable language data
2. be able to display complex data in tabular and graphical form,
3. be able to critically evaluate rival hypotheses regarding language variation and change,
4. be able to use ONZE and other corpora to carry out detailed analyses of New Zealand English over time
5. have designed an academic poster
6. have written a research report, detailing an aspect of linguistic change in New Zealand English


LING210 or LING215 or LING216 or LING217 or ENLA210 or with permission of Linguistics Head of Department


Course Coordinator

Kevin Watson


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
'Seen' class test 20% Due week 6, in class.
Take-home exercises 30% Week 3 and week 7.
Research poster 20% Week 10.
Research paper 30% Week 12.

There will be a written, short-answer test near the end of term 1. This will take place in the 2-hour timetable slot in week 6. It will be a ‘seen test’, in that you will be given a set of questions in advance, and a subset of those questions will appear on the test paper. You will be given the series of questions one day before the test (via Learn), so you will have 24 hours to think about them.

There will be two take home exercises, each of which will be time limited. The tasks are specifically designed to develop your research project, and to help you develop the skills you will need to execute it successfully. Each task contributes 15% of the course grade.

A major part of the assessment is the requirement to carry out a piece of research. This will develop your skills not only in linguistic analysis, but also in broader issues related to data management and presentation. Learning how to organise this sort of variable data, and how to present it carefully to a reader, is a very useful transferrable skill which will be helpful far beyond this course. Your project will be assessed in two ways. You will write a report documenting the research you have carried out. This is worth 30% of the course grade and is due at the end of the semester. As well as this, you are required to design a research poster, which documents your main findings. This poster is worth 20% of the course grade. The deadline for the poster is slightly before the deadline for the report, because you will receive feedback on the poster and be able to incorporate it into the final, written version of your research project.

There is no final exam for LING310.


There is no required textbook for this course, but four useful books that will be recommended are:

Hay, J., Maclagan, M. and Gordon, E. (2008) New Zealand English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Gordon, E., Campbell, L., Hay, J., Maclagan, M., Sudbury, A. and Trudgill, P. (2004) New Zealand English: Its Origins and Evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tagliamonte, S. (2012) Variationist Sociolinguistics: change, observation, interpretation. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Kiesling, S. (2011) Linguistic variation and change. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

Course links

Library portal
The course outline is available on LEARN (only for students enrolled in this course).


Domestic fee $1,464.00

International fee $5,950.00

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences on the department and colleges page.

All LING310 Occurrences

  • LING310-17S1 (C) Semester One 2017 - Not Offered