Sophie Holmes-Elliott

Sophie Holmes-Elliott is RA to the project and the ‘standard’ (posh) interviewer of the speakers. These interviews are designed to elicit the participants’ more standard range of speech.

As well as working on the project Sophie is also finishing her PhD at Glasgow University. Her dissertation, titled: London calling: assessing the spread of metropolitan features in the southeast, is a study of language variation and change in Hastings, East Sussex. The thesis focuses on the different language change processes involved in dialect levelling. This is where dialects lose their marked features, for example unusual vowels, grammatical constructions or words, in favour of more neutral supralocal ones. This means that vast areas, which may have previously housed a number of distinct regional varieties, become linguistically homogenous. Often the changes can be traced back to the influence of a large, dominant metropolis, unsurprisingly for Hastings, this is London.


Sophie has presented some of these findings at conferences. At Sociolinguistic Symposium 19, in Berlin she used data from the longitudinal British documentary Seven-up to examine the relationship between language change and age-grading; where speakers use different styles of speaking depending on their age and life-stage:

Holmes-Elliott, S. (2012)  Apparent time, real time and an “off the shelf change” – TH-fronting in southeast England, paper presented at Sociolinguistics Symposium 19, Freie Universität Berlin, August 21-24, 2012

Holmes Elliott apparent time 7 up TH fronting SS19

At the International Conference on Language Variation in Europe (ICLaVE), held in 2013 she presented on findings from her thesis that focussed on how children advance different types of language change:

Holmes-Elliott, s. (2013) Exogenous versus endogenous change: how well does this distinction hold within a levelling variety? paper presented at The Seventh International Congress of Language Variation in Europe, HiST, Trondheim, 27-29th June, 2013

ICLaVE Exo and endo change

As well as the One Speaker Two Dialects project and her thesis Sophie is working in collaboration with Dr Erez Levon investigating language variation in the southeast of England. Using data from the reality TV shows The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea Sophie and Dr Levon are looking at how the social categories class and gender intersect with regards to language variation. Subsequent analyses have examined how these quantitative patterns relate to interactional behaviour, in particular stance. Their forthcoming paper East End Boys and West End Girls: /s/-Fronting in Southeast England, is due to be published autumn 2013.

They presented their most recent findings at ICLaVE 2013 in Tronheim, Norway:

Holmes-Elliott, S. & Levon, E. (2013) Stance and Sensibility: Gender, class and affect in southeast England, paper presented at The Seventh International Congress of Language Variation in Europe, HiST, Trondheim, 27-29th June, 2013

ICLaVE Stance & Sensibility Levon & HolmesElliott