Dr Helen West

Senior Lecturer in English Language/Linguistics, Programme Leader, BA English Language (Combined Honours).

Qualifications

MA (Edinburgh), MSc (Edinburgh), PhD (York), PGC Teaching and Learning (HE).

Overview

Helen West staff profile image

I have taught on a range of English Language and Linguistics courses at the universities of Lancaster and York, including Sociolinguistics, British Accents and Varieties, Phonetics and Phonology and the Sounds and Structures of English. 

Teaching

Modules I currently teach on and/or convene include:

  • EN5302 Language Acquisition
  • EN5314 Roots and Development of English
  • EN4303 Introduction to Sociolinguistics
  • EN6305 Topics in Sociophonetics
  • EN6310 Dissertation

Research

My interests are  primarily sociophonetic, identifying language variation and change in English dialects. In particular, my previous research has focused on urban areas which lie in between major linguistic zones; investigating the conscious and subconscious linguistic affiliation the people in these areas adopt, in conjunction with the internal processes which drive language change.

My thesis analyses two towns in the north west of England that are situated either side of the Merseyside/ Lancashire border, investigating the influence of internal, external (contact) and extra-linguistic factors (speaker attitude and identity) on the realisations of the NURSE and SQUARE vowels and the lenition of /t/ and /k/ in certain phonological environments.

Published work

Recent essays, articles and book chapters:

  • ‘A town between dialects: accent levelling, psycho-social orientation   and identity in Merseyside, UK’. (2013). In by Auer, Peter, Javier Caro Reina and Göz Kaufmann (eds.) Language Variation - European Perspectives IV. Selected papers from the Sixth International Conference on Language Variation in Europe (ICLaVE 6), Freiburg, June 2011. John Benjamins.
  • ‘Language attitudes and divergence on the Merseyside/Lancashire border’. (forthcoming).  To appear in Hickey, Raymond (eds.) Researching Northern English. John Benjamins.

Recent Conference Papers:

  • ‘Analysing variation on the Merseyside/Lancashire border using R and random intercepts’. Language Variation and Change Research Group: University of York. February 2013.
  • ‘Does the political border affect linguistic production due to a heightened sense of orientation? Lenition in two towns either side of the Merseyside border’. Northern Englishes Workshop 5: Nottingham University. April 2012.
  • ‘Speaker attitude and linguistic production: Overt and covert techniques to assess social and linguistic orientation’. Lab Lunch: University of Glasgow (Invited Talk). March 2012.
  • ‘Social orientation and linguistic production: Divergence or convergence on the Merseyside/Lancashire border?’ Language Variation and Change Research Group: University of York. February 2012.
  • ‘Does the political border effect linguistic production due to a heightened sense of orientation? Lenition in two towns either side of the Merseyside border’. Language in Context: University of Edinburgh (Invited Talk). November 2011.
  • ‘Changes in Liverpool English interdental fricatives’ UK Language Variation and Change 8 (UKLVC): Edge-Hill University. September 2011.
  • ‘Regions, Language and the North-West of England: An historical and sociolinguistic overview of the development of northern dialects of English’. International Summer Programme (Lecture): Lancaster University. August 2011.
  • ‘A town between dialects: accent levelling, psycho-social orientation and identity in Merseyside’. 3rd annual Summer School of Sociolinguistics: University of Glasgow. July 2011.