Professor Miriam Meyerhoff

BA, MA (VUW), PhD (Penn)

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Honorary Academic



  • Professor

I completed an MA in Linguistics at Victoria University of Wellington in 1985, and subsequently returned in 1990 for the one year Diploma in Teaching English as a Second Language. I then decided to do a PhD in Linguistics, which I completed in 1997 at the University of Pennsylvania under the supervision of Gillian Sankoff, William Labov, Terry Crowley and Howard Giles.

My first job (1997-2000) was at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, and in January 2001 I moved to the University of Edinburgh, first as Lecturer, then Reader and from 2006 as Professor in Sociolinguistics. There, I co-founded the Language in Context Research Group, which provided a research home for staff, students and international visitors working on issues related to language in use and language in society. With my PhD students, I also organised the Summer School of Sociolinguistics 2009 and 2010. This was an opportunity for post-graduate students and faculty from around the UK, Europe and parts of the Middle East, to spend four or five days in intensive master classes on different aspects of sociolinguistic research.

Since March 2014, I have been Honorary fellow in the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland. My principal appointment is as Professor of Linguistics at Victoria University of Wellington.

Research | Current

  • My research specialisation is in sociolinguistics. I am principally interested in language variation and change (qualitative and quantitative methods); gender and language; pidgins and creoles (especially Bislama and other Pacific creoles and also the creole spoken in Bequia, St Vincent and the Grenadines); varieties of English and New Zealand English more particularly; social networks and communities of practice; perceptions and attitudes about language and language users.

My current research is mainly focused on variation and change in the Nkep speaking community of Hog Harbour, Vanuatu. This work is supported by a grant from the Endangered Languages Research Project (2010-2014) and involves basic descriptive work on the community's language, with a sociolinguistic perspective on language variation. The community is concerned about language attrition in the face of pressure from Bislama and English. This project is a welcome return to Vanuatu for me: I conducted fieldwork for my PhD in 1994-95 in Santo township and on Malo island, and I have come back to Vanuatu regularly in the years since.

I have other ongoing corpus-based projects looking at language contact/creolisation: one focuses on the creole spoken in Bequia [St Vincent and the Grenadines] (with James Walker, York University, Canada); amother focuses on the acquisition of language variation in teenage migrants in Edinburgh and London (with Erik Schleef, University of Manchester).

I am Co-Editor (with Umberto Ansaldo, University of Hong Kong) of the Creole Language Library (John Benjamins). I edited the second edition of the Handbook of Language, Gender and Sexuality (Wiley-Blackwell) with Susan Ehrlich (York University, Canada). Sue and I are also co-editors of the Language and Sexuality section of the Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality (Wiley-Blackwell).

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome enquiries from prospective students who are interested in topics related to my general research interests. Asa an Honorary Fellow, I cannot be primary supervisor for PG research topics, but am happy to work with colleagues in Psychology and Speeh Sciences who are willing to act as primary supervisors. Dr Elaine Ballard and I are co-supervising a PhD on the effects of language contact on the Serbian of adult migrants to New Zealand (candidate: Ksenija Obradovic).


Areas of expertise

Language variation; language change; gender and language; language contact, especially pidgins and creoles

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Meyerhoff, M., & Stanford, J. N. (2015). "Tings change, all tings change": The changing face of sociolinguistics with a global perspective. Globalising Sociolinguistics: Challenging and Expanding Theory (pp. 1-15). 10.4324/9781315697826
  • Walker, J. A., & Meyerhoff, M. (2015). Bequia English. Further Studies in the Lesser-Known Varieties of English (pp. 128-143). 10.1017/CBO9781139108652.006
  • Meyerhoff, M., & Schleef, E. (2014). Hitting an Edinburgh target: Immigrant adolescents' acquisition of variation in Edinburgh English. Sociolinguistics in Scotland (pp. 103-128). 10.1057/9781137034717
  • Brezina, V., & Meyerhoff, M. (2014). Significant or random?: A critical review of sociolinguistic generalisations based on large corpora. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 19 (1), 1-28. 10.1075/ijcl.19.1.01bre
  • Meyerhoff, M. (2014). Place and purpose: Indexicality in ecological perspective. In W. Vandenbussche, E.-H. Jahr, P. Trudgill (Eds.) Language Ecology of the 21st Century: Social Conflicts in their Linguistic Environment (pp. 267-291). Oslo: Novus Press.
  • Meyerhoff, M., & Schleef, E. (2014). Hitting an Edinburgh Target: Immigrant Adolescents’ Acquisition of Variation in Edinburgh English. In R. Lawson (Ed.) Sociolinguistics in Scotland (pp. 103-128). London: Palgrave. 10.1057/9781137034717.0014
  • Meyerhoff, M., & Walker, J. A. (2013). An existential problem: The sociolinguistic monitor and variation in existential constructions on Bequia (St. Vincent and the Grenadines). Language in Society, 42 (4), 407-428. 10.1017/S0047404513000456
  • Meyerhoff, M., & Walker, J. A. (2013). Bequia Talk (St Vincent and the Grenadines). Westminster: Battlebridge Press. Pages: 136.