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Professor Miriam Meyerhoff

Senior Research Fellow since 2020
My research examines the sociolinguistic constraints on variation, principally in communities characterised by language or dialect contact. I am currently engaged in a long-term project with the Nkep-speaking community in Vanuatu to document their language. Much of my work has been on Creoles – a particularly rewarding area for (socio)linguistic study. Their (typical) lack of standardisation means there is a lot of variation and change at all levels of linguistic structure. They are generally used in post-colonial communities with long histories of struggles over identity and in which globalisation raises new questions over cultural and linguistic differentiation. I have published descriptive and variationist papers on features at virtually all levels of linguistic structure, but my primary interest remains syntactic and discourse factors. These features shed light on the universality of linguistic theory and have also proved important indicators of the role of language as a symbolic resource in the construction of gendered and other social identities.
Professor Miriam Meyerhoff
  • Background

    • Professor of Linguistics, Victoria University of Wellington (from 2014 to 2020)
    • Professor of Linguistics, University of Auckland (from 2010 to 2014)
    • Lecturer, Reader, Professor of Sociolinguistics, University of Edinburgh (from 2001 to 2010)
    • Assistant Professor, Linguistics, University of Hawai’i at Manoa (from 1997 to 2000)
    • Postgraduate, University of Pennsylvania (1997)
    • Postgraduate, Victoria University of Wellington (1986)
    • Undergraduate, Victoria University of Wellington (1984)
  • Research interests

    • Sociolinguistic variation and change
    • Sociolinguistics and Pacific languages, especially the languages of Vanuatu
    • Creoles
    • Language and gender
  • Other professional memberships and roles

    • Fellow, Royal Society of New Zealand Te Aparangi
    • Fellow, Linguistic Society of America
    • Associate editor, Asia-Pacific Language Variation
    • Partner investigator, ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (evolution/shape/learning)
  • Research awards and grants

    • A Grammar of ‘Oroha. Endangered Language Documentation Project. (Darren Flavelle, Miriam Meyerhoff, Victoria Chen) (from 2019 to 2021).
    • Development of tonal metacognition in Vietnames and Me’phaa. Royal Society of New Zealand. (Rolando Coto-Solano, Miriam Meyerhoff) (from 2019 to 2021).
    • Banam Bay Language: documentation and endangered language maintenance. Endangered Language Documentation Programme. (Brittany Hoback, Miriam Meyerhoff) (from 2018 to 2020).
    • War and peace in the nursery: How do young children negotiate conflict to establish belonging and well-being in a multi-ethnic NZ early childhood centre? Royal Society of New Zealand. (Carmen Dalli, Miriam Meyerhoff, Anna Strycharz-Banas) (from 2017 to 2020).
    • Rethinking language variation in a super-diverse city (the 'Auckland Voices' project). Royal Society of New Zealand. (Miriam Meyerhoff, Catherine Watson, Elaine Ballard, Helen Areta Charters) (from 2016 to 2018).
    • Documentation of Nkep (north Vanuatu): Structure and variation. Endangered Language Documentation Programme (from 2011 to 2014).
    • Sociolinguistics and immigration: linguistic variation among adolescents in London and Edinburgh. ESRC. (Miriam Meyerhoff, Erik Schleef) (from 2009 to 2010).
    • Research Excellence Award, Victoria University of Wellington (2019).
    • Hudson Medal, Royal Society of New Zealand (2018).