Social & Political Sciences

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David Hornsby

University of Kent


Unusually, I have a foot in two Kent departments: I am a Senior Lecturer in French, but I now spend most of my time in ELL, a department I co-founded in 2009. I am also external examiner for French at the University of Exeter, and for Sociolinguistics at the University of Essex. Having studied Modern Languages at Oxford and Bath, I worked briefly as a UN translator in Geneva, before embarking on a PhD at Cambridge, which I completed in 1996. Since coming to Kent I’ve taught everything from Russian and translation theory to comparative literature, but my current teaching for French and ELL focuses on my research interests in language variation and change. My monograph Redefining Regional French explored the emergence of mixed dialects, or koinés, in the French mining town of Avion; I’m currently investigating the phenomenon of liaison in French, which involves the pronunciation in some contexts of normally silent link consonants (e.g. trop (p) important) and its complex relationship to social factors. Fieldwork for my latest project has brought me to another mining area, this time in East Kent, where contact between families who came from other UK coalfields in the 1920s has produced a unique English dialect, the complexities of which I hope to unravel. I took part in a recent BBC1 documentary on the East Kent coalfield, and have frequently been asked to contribute to TV and radio programmes on British accents and dialects, notably with Alistair McGowan on BBC1’s The One Show, reflecting the enduring fascination of language variation for linguists and non-linguists alike. I’m happy to supervise research into any aspect of language variation: current research projects are investigating a writing system for Oromo, the emergence of a ‘standard’ Franco-Provençal dialect, and the adoption of London English features in Essex and Kent.

Research Interest

French and Linguistics

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