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Modern Languages and LinguisticsPart of Humanities

Dr Sophie Holmes-Elliott PhD

Lecturer in Linguistics

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Dr Sophie Holmes-Elliott is a Lecturer in Linguistics in Modern Languages at the University of Southampton.

I'm interested in the relationship between people and language. Specifically, how social and linguistic systems interact to constrain and propel language change.

My PhD (awarded 2015) looked at dialect levelling. This is where regional accents lose their more unusual features and people over broad areas start to sound the same as each other.

Following this I held a postdoctoral position as the primary Research Assistant on an ESRC funded project One Speaker Two Dialects (PI Prof Jennifer Smith). Here we were investigating bidialectalism – where speakers have command of more than one dialect.

In 2016 I joined the Modern Languages Department at the University of Southampton as a Lecturer in Linguistics.







Research interests

I am a Variationist Sociolinguist and my research interests include: Language Variation and Change; Language & Society; Language & Identity and Language & Gender.

Currently, I am interested in the relationship between language variation & change and the youngest members of the speech community – children. I am particularly interested in the acquisition of variation - how children make sense of the complex patterns of variation they are surrounded by and go on to acquire highly systematic native dialects. I am also interested in the process of incrementation - where children, as they mature into adolescents, move language changes on a stage further. Essentially, both areas investigate how children evolve from language learners and into language leaders and how this impacts on trajectories of language change.

Research interests: language change; sociolinguistics; phonetics; sociophonetics; language & gender; language & identity; regional dialect levelling; incrementation; bidialectalism


Humanities Faculty Ethics Committee.

2016 Holmes-Elliott, S. Ladies first? Adolescent peaks in a male-led change: TH-fronting in southeast England Penn Working Papers in Linguistics volume 22.2., Selected Papers from NWAV 44


2015 Holmes-Elliott, S. & Smith, J. DRESS-down: /ε/-lowering in apparent time in a rural Scottish community Proceedings from the XVIII International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Glasgow


2013 Levon, E. & Holmes-Elliott, S. East end boys and west end girls: /s/-fronting in southeast England Penn Working Papers in Linguistics volume 19.2., Selected Papers from NWAV 41


2013 Smith, R., Holmes-Elliott, S., Pettinato, P. & Knight, R. Cross accent intelligibility of speech in noise: Long-term familiarity and short-term familiarisation Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 67:3


2011 Stuart-Smith, J., Smith, R., Rathke, T., Li Santi, F., and Holmes, S. Responding to accents after experiencing interactive or mediated speech, Proceedings of the XVII International Congress of the Phonetic Sciences, Hong Kong




LING 1002: Introduction to English in its Global Context

LING 1006: Making of Modern English

LING 2008: Sound and Voice

LING 6006: Language in Society



Dr Sophie Holmes-Elliott
Avenue Campus
SO17 1BF

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