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It’s been a long year…


And it’s only February! I know that I usually start these posts with ‘I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last posted’, but genuinely, I can’t believe I last posted in October last year! Part of this is still to do with the fact that I’m struggling to find a balance between teaching, admin, research and finding time to blog.

And it’s not like there’s not been interesting stuff to discuss, from the article on New York English, to a new blog I found (Lexical Valley), stuff on pronoun usage on Google, gender neutrality in children’s books, linguistic discrimination in the trial about Trayvon Martin’s shooting, Danny Dyer and Game of Thrones and loads more besides. So there’s been loads of stuff going on that would have been interesting to have spent a bit more time on, so over the next few months I hope to go back to some of these stories and have a bit of a think about what they tell us about language.

But alas, my focus has been primarily on course directing, marking, doing my external examiner duties, wedding planning (!), a bit of writing and assorted other work-related responsibilities. One of the things that is coming to an end (ok, in the next 10 months) is the impact volume that I’m working on with Dave Sayers (Sheffield Hallam). We even have our own entry in the Routledge catalogue, so it’s all systems go as far as that’s concerned. All the chapters are in (I finished my chapter last Sunday), the introduction is still to be finished, and then it’s just the wee bits and pieces of indexing etc that’ll be left to do around about June or so. I’m really looking forward to this coming out, and it’ll be the end of a long process going back to 2012. These projects take far too long to do, and that’s one of the things that I talk about in my chapter!

Anyway, I had a quick 30 minutes tonight to get this post done. Apologies it’s not exactly high on quality content, but I kind of guilt tripped myself into writing something down!

The Social Linguist

Some research stuff!


Ok, so I know it’s been ages since I last posted, something which is particularly embarrassing given the fact that my last post mentioned that I would be updating more regularly. And that hasn’t happened. Ugh. Part of the reason for this is because I’ve been settling back into my life in Birmingham after my Fulbright life in Pittsburgh came to an end, and to be totally honest, I’m still kind of finding my feet. It’s amazing how despite living in a city for years, even a short time away can make everything seem so new again. I mean, I spent nearly 10 years in Glasgow and now when I visit there, I hardly recognise the place, and the same happened a wee bit with coming back to Brum.

But after a few months back, things are slowly coming together. I’m back teaching, I’m back sitting in meetings, I’m back driving back and forth to work, and I’m gradually getting to grips with this UK life, but I think it’ll take another few months before I can honestly say things are back to the way they were before I left. What’s a bit worrisome is that I still find myself pining for Pittsburgh, about the places and people I met there, and while I had that a bit with Tucson, it’s more pronounced this time. I’m sure it will pass, but being melancholy about it certainly won’t help!

In other news, there’s been quite a lot happening in the world of sociolinguistics recently. For example, we had Lindsay Johns banging on about the power of the spoken word and how we should all be speaking Standard English. We had the banning of slang words in a high school in south London. There was the story about declining literacy rates in the UK and the slump in foreign language learning at university level. Oh, and there was also the story that ‘huh’ might be a linguistic universal. All of this, and more, continues to show how language is still very much front and centre on the national and international stage, although bizarrely, there’s not much in the way of input of actual linguists… That’s probably a story for another post, particularly as it relates to my own research on social media and the reporting of sociolinguistic research (I gave a talk about this at the recent Language in the Media conference in London).

Lastly, I’m happy to announce that I’ve had a flurry of things getting published recently, including an article on TH-fronting in Glasgow, which will be in English World-Wide and my own chapter on what ethnography can tell us about sociolinguistic variation over time, which will be in my edited volume Sociolinguistics in Scotland (and you can now buy it on Amazon!). Both of these pieces of work have been a wee while in the making, so as you can imagine, I’m pretty chuffed to have them done and dusted (especially the edited volume!). /blatentselfpromotion (!)

So yeah, I’ll try try try to start updating this more regularly, especially because it is quite good fun and it’s something a bit different from the usual academic-y kind of writing that I have to do. If only I could use some of my blog posts as REF outputs…

The Social Linguist

I’m still alive!


Ok, so I should confess that I haven’t been dedicating nearly as much time to the blog as I should be, although I’m hoping that normal service will resume shortly. I haven’t been posting for a few reasons, mainly to do with getting the edited volume out of the way and making a start on the book. The edited volume is now, however, almost completed, and I’ll only have the book to focus on for the remainder of my time in Pittsburgh (less than five months left to go… I’m sad already). So yeah, I hope to be posting on a more regular schedule within the next few weeks!

The Social Linguist

Categories: Home life

Back in the saddle!

November 20, 2012 1 comment

Ugh… Ok, so I don’t quite know how it happened, but it’s been nearly three weeks since my last update. Ok, it’s a lie that I don’t know how it happened, but it sounds so ‘wah, look at me! I’m so BUSY!!!’ humble-braggy that I’m not even going to entertain the thought…

In any event, I’m back in the saddle and trying to plough my way through about half a dozen minor projects before I start on the magnum opus of THESIS 2.0 (or, ‘The thesis I wish I had written three years ago if I knew then what I know now’, although it’s unlikely that a publisher will go for that title…). So yeah, I’m back in Pittsburgh, I’ve got my home office all set up (with a bookshelf and a side light and everything. It’s very mature) and I’m raring to get stuck into getting this book done.

But genuinely, I’ve got precious little idea what I’m actually going to write about. I’ve been here for two months already, and while I’ve got through a good amount of stuff, I’ve not even started to think about ‘Chapter 1’, never mind what goes into the rest of the thing. So a lack of thinking time has kind of ham-stringed (hamstrung?) me, and I’m guessing that it’ll only be when I sit down at the computer and go ‘right then, let’s get on with this’ that my creative synapses will start firing and I’ll figure things out.

I’m sure this is going to be a big job, and I’m kind of tempted to shunt off thesis 1.0 and just change the title, although that *definitely* won’t get picked up by a publisher. Ok, well, there’s one thing that I want to do, and that’s more coding and analysis, probably of the rest of my Year 3 data, and that’s the plan for December. Once that’s done, I can then sit down and hash out the other stuff I want to write about. Probably some stuff about Glasgow. And male speakers in Glasgow. And masculinity. And masculinity in Glasgow. And language. And ethnography. And stuff.

It’s gonna be a best-seller.

– The Social Linguist

Categories: Home life, Writing Tags: , ,

I’m alive!!!


Ok, so it’s been nearly two months since my last blog post, mainly because I was busy flim-flaming my way from Birmingham to Cambridge to Berlin to Glasgow to Pittsburgh (via Iceland and New York). Suffice to say, it’s been a *hectic* two months, but I am now settled in my new house in Greenfields, Pittsburgh, PA. Hurrah!

But besides a bunch of international travel, I’ve managed to catch up with friends and family, see some interesting sights, learned loads at the Sociolinguistics Symposium in Berlin, watched a rugby game (we lost…), celebrated my 30th birthday (in Pittsburgh!), ate loads of nice food, scoped out some great bars, had some awesome beers (Berlin and Pittsburgh are hallowed venues for micro and craft brewing), finished up a funding application, finished up an edited book proposal (with only minor bumps along the way, mainly technological), *nearly* finished up a journal article (damn stats are still killing me), sorted a US bank account, sorted a US cell phone, sorted US internet access (hence the ability to now update the blog!), sorted a house (see above), sorted all my immigration and visa paperwork (so I’m not gonna get kicked out of the country!), found some nice parks, went for a few runs (which resulted in me not being able to run for a week due to a foot injury…), found the local Giant Eagle, found a local gluten-free bakery for Rebecca (so she can have bagels for the first time ever!), met some lovely new friends and colleagues, had an invite to speak at the Scottish Leadership Conference, and just generally had a really great couple of weeks.

Anyway, with secure internet up and running now, blog updates should be coming along a lot more regularly, so keep tuned for stories about my Fulbright year, sociolinguistic research, random musings, academic trials and tribulations, and all the rest of it.

– The Social Linguist

N.B This is not an official US Department of State blog. Views and information presented here are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Programme or the US Department of State.

Blog hiatus

August 4, 2012 2 comments

In less than four days time, we’ll have moved out of our flat in Birmingham in preparation for the Big Move to the good ol’ US of A. So at the moment, I’m writing this blog post sitting on the floor of our flat surrounded by the detritus of moving home (admittedly, most of it having been done by Rebecca who’s done a brilliant job, while I’ve been catching up on a bunch of paperwork and university admin stuff). It’s quite scary to think that after a whistle-stop tour across the UK visiting a bunch of friends and family we won’t see for over a year (oh, and I have to fit in a conference during this time as well…), we’ll be moving our whole lives over 3000 miles away. But we’re both incredibly excited about this opportunity and we’re now just counting down the days until we fly off.

Anyway, with my nomadic status imminent, I have no idea how much I’m going to be able to blog over the next two months, particularly without access to reliable internet (my Dad has yet to join the digital revolution and we’re staying with him for a few weeks). I’ll try my best to blog at least once a week between now and October, but even that’s not a guarantee. Once we’re settled in Pittsburgh and I’m sorted with proper ‘net access, though, normal service should resume.

The Social Linguist

Categories: Home life Tags: , ,

Ding dong the bells are ringing!


Not for me, but for my younger brother who is getting married this weekend! I don’t really say much about my younger brother on here, but this is such a momentous occasion for him that I can’t help but wax lyrical about how proud, happy and just generally chuffed to bits I am for him and his soon-to-be wife. Kris isn’t one for decision-making, and he’s normally pretty hopeless at planning anything beyond the next week, but he seems to be getting this whole ‘being an adult’ thing down pat. He’s got a mortgage on a wee flat in Lanark and he’s getting married, two things which have thus far eluded me in my adult life. I always took the mickey out of him for being the immature one, but it seems that once this weekend is over, the shoe will be on the other foot.

As he’s getting married in Scotland, the groomsmen will all be kilted up and I’m really looking forward to wearing the whole get up. While I normally wear a kilt when I go to the rugby, I never really get a chance to wear the full outfit. The kilt is a wonderful piece of clothing that makes any man look good, and with Kris, he really needs all the help he can get. It amazes me that kilts and other highland wear were actually banned in the 18th century so as to control and suppress the clans of Scotland but now it’s more commonly associated with allowing one to bare one’s buttocks (or other delicate parts!) to the general populace with ease (as demonstrated here and discussed here). Thankfully in Scotland, men don’t get asked what they’re wearing under their kilts, so I get to avoid that conversation… (see here for an explanation)

So my best man’s speech is prepared, marking is all done (huzzah!), hotel is booked and tickets to the last home game of the Glasgow Warriors are bought (priorities!). Added to that, it’s a bank holiday on Monday, so I at least get a chance to recover from all the festivities. Weekends like this only come up occasionally, so I’m hoping for fair weather, good company and great memories.

– The Social Linguist

Categories: Home life Tags: , , ,