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Dr Mercedes Durham

Overview

Dr Mercedes Durham Position: Senior Lecturer Email: DurhamM@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone: +44(0)29 208 74244
Extension: 74244
Location: John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3EU.

Research Group

Centre for Language and Communication

Research Interests

Language Variation and Change. Sociolinguistics. Native and non-native Acquisition of Variation. Dialect shift. Native and non-native varieties of English.

Selected Publications

Durham, Mercedes (2014). The Acquisition of Sociolinguistic Competence in a Lingua Franca Context. Multilingual Matters.

Durham, Mercedes (2014). 30 years later: Real-time change and stability in attitudes towards the dialect in Shetland (1983-2010). In Robert Lawson (ed.), Sociolinguistics in Scotland.Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 296-318.

Durham, Mercedes (2013). Was/were alternation in Shetland English. World Englishes 32(1):108-128.

Smith, Jennifer, Durham, Mercedes & Richards, Hazel (2013). The social and linguistic in the acquisition of sociolinguistic norms: caregivers, children and variation. Linguistics 51(2):285-324. 

Durham, Mercedes, Haddican, William, Zweig, Eytan, Johnson, Daniel Ezra, Baker, Zipporah, Cockeram, David, Danks, Esther, Tyler, Louise (2012). Constant linguistic effects in the diffusion of be like. Journal of English Linguistics 40(4):316-337.

Smith, Jennifer & Durham, Mercedes (2012). Bidialectalism or dialect death? Explaining generational change in the Shetland Islands, Scotland. American Speech 87(1):57-83.

Durham, Mercedes (2011). Right dislocation in Northern England: Frequency and use – perception meets reality. English World-Wide: A Journal of Varieties of English. 32(3):257-279.

Durham, Mercedes (2011). I think (that) something's missing: Complementizer deletion in non-native e-mails. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching 1(3):421-445.

Smith, Jennifer & Durham, Mercedes (2011). A Tipping Point in Dialect Obsolescence? Journal of Sociolinguistics, 15 (2):197-225.

Smith, J., Durham, Mercedes & Fortune, L. (2009). Universal and dialect-specific pathways of acquisition. Language Variation and Change, 21 (1):69-95.

Postgraduate Students

I am interested in supervising doctoral projects broadly related to the fields of Sociolinguistics, and Language Variation and Change, particularly those from students with interests in the acquisition of variation, morphosyntax, and discourse, and in English, French or Italian dialects.

Publications

Most of my articles are available in pre-publication form on ORCA, Cardiff’s institutional digital repository: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/view/cardiffauthors/A4591520.html Please contact me if you’d like a copy of anything else.

Durham, Mercedes (2014). The Acquisition of Sociolinguistic Competence in a Lingua Franca Context. Multilingual Matters.
 
Durham, Mercedes (2014). 30 years later: Real-time change and stability in attitudes towards the dialect in Shetland (1983-2010). In Robert Lawson (ed.), Sociolinguistics in Scotland.Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 296-318.

Durham, Mercedes (2013). Was/were alternation in Shetland English. World Englishes 32(1):108-128.

Smith, Jennifer, Durham, Mercedes & Richards, Hazel (2013). The social and linguistic in the acquisition of sociolinguistic norms: caregivers, children and variation. Linguistics 51(2):285-324.

Durham, Mercedes, Haddican, William, Zweig, Eytan, Johnson, Daniel Ezra, Baker, Zipporah, Cockeram, David, Danks, Esther, Tyler, Louise (2012). Constant linguistic effects in the diffusion of be like. Journal of English Linguistics 40(4):316-337.

Smith, Jennifer & Durham, Mercedes (2012). Bidialectalism or dialect death? Explaining generational change in the Shetland Islands, Scotland. American Speech 87(1):57-83.

Durham, Mercedes (2012). Review of Sociolinguistics and Corpus Linguistics. Language in Society 41(1):127-130.

Durham, Mercedes (2011). Right dislocation in Northern England: Frequency and use – perception meets reality. English World-Wide: A Journal of Varieties of English. 32(3):257-279.

Durham, Mercedes (2011). I think (that) something's missing: Complementizer deletion in non-native e-mails. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching 1(3):421-445.

Millar, Robert McColl. & Durham, Mercedes (eds.). (2011). Applied Linguistics, Global and Local: Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics, 9-11 September 2010, University of Aberdeen. Scitsiugnil Press, London .

Smith, Jennifer & Durham, Mercedes (2011). A Tipping Point in Dialect Obsolescence? Journal of Sociolinguistics, 15 (2):197-225.

Smith, J., Durham, Mercedes & Fortune, L. (2009). Universal and dialect-specific pathways of acquisition. Language Variation and Change, 21 (1):69-95.

Durham, Mercedes (2007). ''It's altered a lot has York": Right dislocation in Northern England. York Papers in Linguistics (8):60-71.

Smith, Jennifer, Durham, Mercedes & Fortune, Liane (2007). ''Mam, my trousers is fa'in doon!': Community, caregiver, and child in the acquisition of variation in a Scottish dialect. Language Variation and Change, 19 (1):63-99.

Durham, Mercedes (2007). Language Choice on a Swiss Mailing List. Redesigning English, pp. 231-240.

Durham, Mercedes (2007). Language Choice on a Swiss Mailing List. The Multilingual Internet: Language, Culture and Communication Online, pp. 319-339.

Smith, Jennifer, Durham, Mercedes & Fortune, Liane (2006). Caregiver and Child in the Acquisition of (Socio)linguistic Norms in a Scottish Dialect. BUCLD 30: Proceedings of the 30 th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, pp. 572-583.

Durham , Mercedes (2005) Also, too, as well: Non-native variation of additive adverbials. Durham Working Papers in Linguistics, volume 10.

Droeschel, Yvonne, Durham, Mercedes & Rosenberger, Lukas (2005). Swiss English or simply non-native English? A discussion of two possible features. Linguistics, Language Learning and Language Teaching, pp. 161-176.

Durham , Mercedes (2004) The Future of Swiss English: Variation in an English Lingua Franca, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Language Variation in Europe (ICLaVE 2).

Durham , Mercedes (2003) Language Choice on a Swiss Mailing List. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, special issue on the Multilingual Internet, 9.1 (November 2003).

Research

I work in sociolinguistics, the subfield of linguistics which examines language in a societal context:  namely why and how different social groups (as defined by social class, gender, age, ethnicity, etc) make use of the linguistic resources present in the language(s) they speak to signal affiliation with or dissimilarity from other groups across various contexts. My research focuses primarily on aspects of Language Variation and Change (LVC), and involves the use of quantitative methods to analyse linguistic features (predominantly morphosyntactic and/or pragmatic, but also phonological in some instances) to establish what affects their use.  As well as standard statistical methods, I often employ multivariate analysis in the interpretation of my data, using the methodologies of comparative sociolinguistics to find similarities in the speech patterns of different varieties.

I have worked a range of different projects, different dialects of English and different features (main projects listed below). Although there is considerable breadth and depth in these projects, they are all broadly concerned with how variation (and with it, language change) is acquired, viewed and transmitted either in individual speakers (native or non-native) or across successive generations. My focus on the acquisition of variation and the fact that I have examined both native and non-native data makes my LVC research somewhat different from the bulk of studies conducted in the field, but, in many ways, understanding acquisition is crucial to understanding transmission (i.e. change) as well and is a fruitful venue for further research that can lead to more fine-tuned theories into precisely how language changes. The various facets of my research each attempt to bring further insight into the question of how and why features that vary are transmitted and will, I hope, ultimately allow me to posit a cohesive theory which will allow us to better understand these processes.

Non-Native Variation

One strand of my research focuses on the acquisition of sociolinguistic competence by non-native speakers and I have worked on non-native speakers of English in Switzerland. This is an important direction of research in a world where English is increasingly used as a lingua franca and the number of non-native speakers is steadily growing, as it is vital to establish which features of native competence are likely to be lost or modified. Moreover, examining how non-native speakers gain sociolinguistic competence can also help us to better understand why some features may turn out to be particularly prone to change in native speech as well.

Variation in Child Language

Another strand of my research focuses on children’s acquisition of sociolinguistic competence. I have worked with Dr Jennifer Smith (of Glasgow University) on this topic, and our research (funded by the ESRC) has focused on a range of phonological, morphosyntactic and lexical items found in a dialect of North-East Scots in the speech of 29 children and their primary caregivers (i.e. their mother), and has shown that age, the complexity of the feature, and the social awareness of it, all impact on how soon children are able to produce native-like patterns, but that it is often earlier than previously reported. 

Processes of dialect shift

I have worked on two separate projects examining dialect shift on the Shetland Islands. One (funded by the ESRC )with Dr Jennifer Smith focused on language change across three generations in the main town of Lerwick, while the other (funded by the British Academy) focused on changes in the dialect attitudes of Shetland school children over the past 30 years.

Non-canonical word order

 I am also interested how non-canonical word order forms differ with respect to rates and use across dialects of English. While the use of the forms is linked to information structure, there are social factors at play in their selection as well and this is what I want to focus on. Having examined right dislocation forms in York, I intend to extend my research to other features and other areas.

Additional Collaborative Projects

- Quotative be like (with Dr William Haddican, CUNY Queens College)
- Grammaticalization of the going to future form (with Professor Sali Tagliamonte, University of Toronto, and Dr Jennifer Smith, Glasgow University).

Biography

I have been at Cardiff University since September 2012. Before that I worked as a lecturer in English Linguistics at the University of Aberdeen from 2008 to 2012. I have also worked and taught at the Universities of York, Glasgow and Leeds. I grew up and studied in Switzerland, getting my first degree at the University of Lausanne and my doctorate at the University of Fribourg.