Kevin Watson

Senior LecturerKevin Watson

Linguistics Head of Department
Elsie 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

  • Heyne M., Wang X., Derrick D., Dorreen K. and Watson KD. (2018) The articulation of /ɹ/ in New Zealand English. Journal of the International Phonetic Association Online First http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0025100318000324.
  • Le T., Cunningham UM. and Watson K. (2018) The relationship between willingness to communicate and social presence in an online English language course. JALT CALL Journal 14(1).
  • Rachid S., Cunningham U., Watson K. and Howard J. (2018) Revisiting the digital divide(s): Technology-enhanced English language practices at a university in Pakistan. Australian Journal of Applied Linguistics 1(2): 64-87. http://dx.doi.org/10.29140/ajal.v1n2.7.
  • Rashid S., Cunningham U. and Watson KD. (2017) Task-based language teaching with smartphones: A case study in Pakistan. Teachers and Curriculum 17(2): 33-40. http://dx.doi.org/10.15663/tandc.v17i2.167.
  • 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. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0954394515000204.