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.