News & Events

Here, we will post updates on the project, including events we've held or attended, upcoming events, and other news.

Click here to see more of Sydney Speaks in action.



Sydney Speaks Summer Scholar 2018-19

The Sydney Speaks Project is again participating in the Australian National University Summer Scholars Program which will take place between November 2018 and January 2019. This eight-week program is an opportunity for advanced undergraduate students to participate in, and contribute to, a university research project. 

A central question in sociolinguistics is how varieties have changed over time. Much work has been done exploring change in apparent time (comparing speakers of different ages); however, additional insights can be obtained from real time comparisons (with recordings made at different time periods). The Sydney Speaksproject combines both apparent and real-time data to examine change over a century of Australian English, using a large corpus of spontaneous speech from Sydneysiders, born between the 1890s and the 1990s.

The summer scholar will work as a member of the Sydney Speaks team and gain experience in quantitative sociolinguistic research by contributing to the constitution of the corpus, in particular, working with the oldest speech sample. The scholar will develop research questions, prepare and analyze data to answer those questions, and present results. Other training opportunities will be available through the CoEDL Summer School, to be held at ANU (26-30 Nov). There exists the possibility for the research done to be further developed in Honours, Masters or PhD work. 

Applicants with a background in any subfield of linguistics will be considered, but special consideration will be given to those applicants with a working knowledge of sociolinguistics and/or experience working with corpora of spontaneous speech.

Contact if you have any questions.


Sociolinguistics Symposium 22

James Grama presented a Sydney Speaks paper at Sociolinguistics Symposium 22, as part of a workshop on ‘Ethnolectal research across the globe’ (June 2018). The study of word-final (er) (as in teacher, remember) found that it has lengthened over time in Intonation-Unit-final position. And while in the 1970s, there was ethnolectal variation (with Greeks possibly having led in this lengthening), today, different ethnic groups pattern similarly.



Sydney Speaks Community RAs

Sydney Speaks Community RAs Talia, Ben, Carly and Elena meet to brainstorm participant recruitment and share their experiences conducting sociolinguistic interviews in Sydney.

Linguistic Stereotyping and Discrimination

Catherine Travis gave a presentation at a symposium 'Exploring the Challenges of Super-Diverse Populations in Australia and the Asia-Pacific Region’, in Canberra on 13-14 June. Her paper on 'Linguistic Stereotyping and Discrimination’, discussed, among other things, the results from the Sydney Speaks app. The symposium brought together academics, government officials and policy makers to share and discuss ideas on the types of research needed to identify the important questions for multiculturalism and integration research in Australia and the possible implications these will have for the future. It is important to have linguistic discrimination included in this discussion.

Sydney Speaks Thesis Award

A scholarship is available for an ANU Masters student to do a thesis project related to variation and change in Sydney English. The scholarship offers experience working with a team of researchers on the Sydney Speaks project, a large-scale sociolinguistic study of Australian English. Sydney Speaks examines language change in real and apparent time, drawing on three sub-corpora of spontaneous speech (recorded in the 1970s/1980s and today, and with speakers of different ages). The student researcher would contribute to the advancement of the Sydney Speaks project including further development of the corpus, and original analysis of a feature or set of features chosen by the student under the guidance of the supervisor.

Scholarship amount: $4,000 (paid as a one-off stipend)

Eligibility: ANU students enrolled in the Masters of General and Applied Linguistics (Advanced). The student should have some knowledge of sociolinguistics, as well as phonetics and/or morphosyntax.

Aplpy here before Saturday, 12 August 2018 (NB: see Conditions of Award).


CoEDL Fest 2018

At CoEDL Fest 2018 held in Melbourne, Simón González, James Grama and Catherine Travis presented a poster comparing the accuracy of four forced-aligners widely used in sociolinguistic research (FAVE, LaBB-CAT, MAUS, MFA). Read about their study and findings here.


Sydney Speaks Summer Scholars 2017-18

The Australian National University Summer Scholars Program is an opportunity for advanced undergraduate students to participate in, and contribute to, a university research project. In 2017, three Summer Scholars joined the Sydney Speaks project — Sarah Crafter (University of Melbourne, left), Elena Sheard (University of Sydney; sponsored by the Department of Defence, middle) and Nicole Harris (University of Western Australia; co-sponsored by Appen, right). Over the 8-week period, the three gained experience in: transcribing spontaneous speech data; data extraction and coding; quantitative analysis; and visualisation, interpretation and presentation of results. Examining 1970s and 2010s speech, they explored variation and change in the patterning of like, (ING) and me possessive. On Thursday 18th of January, Sarah, Elena and Nicole presented the results of their analyses alongside other Summer Scholars undertaking internships in the Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language.


 CoEDL Vowel Map

Sydney Speaks is currently compiling a CoEDL vowel map, and we would like to include your vowels on it. It involves being recorded while reading a short passage, and then having your vowels in that passage mapped. You will then be given access to look at where your vowels sit, in relation to others across the Centre (by variety of English, native language, gender, age, node, etc.).

Thank you very much to those of you who have already participated. If you haven’t yet been recorded, it will take only 5-10 mins of your time. Please contact Simón Gonzalez to make your recording in the CoEDL Recording Studio.




New Ways of Analyzing Variation 46

CoEDL members at New Ways of Analyzing Variation 46 (University of Wisconsin, Madison, 5th of November, 2017).

From left to right: Matthew Callaghan (PhD Candidate) presented a poster on variation in Chilean Spanish 2nd person forms; James Grama (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Sydney Speaks) gave a talk on the social conditioning of vowels in 1970s Sydney; and Rena Torres Cacoullos (CoEDL Partner Investigator) ran a workshop on guidelines for statistical reporting of multivariate analysis.


2017 ANU Student Research Conference: Charbel El-Khaissi

Congratulations to Charbel El-Khaissi, Research Assistant with CoEDL’s Sydney Speaks project, who has won the exceptional presentation poster prize at the 2017 ANU Student Research Conference. Charbel used data from the Sydney Social Dialect Survey collected in the 1970s, which is part of the Sydney Speaks Corpora, to explore linguistic variation in Australian English. 

Read more about it here


 CoEDL Summer School 2017

The 3rd Summer School of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language will be held from the 27 November until the 1 December 2017 at the ANU. The Sydney Speaks team will be leading 'Sociolinguistics in the 21st Century'. 

Variationist sociolinguistics has been a trailblazer in areas that have become central to linguistics today, including: analysis based on corpora of spontaneous speech; the application of statistical models; attention paid to minority communities; and the promotion of interdisciplinary work, both between sub-disciplines of linguistics and across disciplines concerned with the study of human society. This course considers some of the key insights that have been put forward over 50 years of variationist work, and places them in the context of linguistics in the 21st Century.

The course will include opportunities for discussion and data analysis. Participants can also engage in a sociophonetics game and have their vowels included in a CoEDL vowel map.

More information about Summer School and registration is located here.


 CoEDL Fest 2017,  University of Queensland

Catherine Travis presented a progress update of the Sydney Speaks Project at CoEDL Fest 2017, showing how the continuing digitisation of spontaneous speech from the 1970s and the ongoing collection of data from contemporary Sydney-siders provides great opportunity to extend our understanding of how Australian English is changing over time, with a specific focus on the role of ethnicity.

Postdocs Simón González and James Grama presented an interactive poster exploring programs that automatically generated output for significantly different vowel distributions based on social factors. Their presentation prompted valuable methodological discussions with fellow CoEDL researchers and students.


Postdoctoral Researchers, Simón González Ochoa and James Grama, join the Sydney Speaks team

The Sydney Speaks team grows in 2017 as two new postdoctoral researchers join the project.

James Grama has just arrived from Santa Monica College, where he took up a position after completing his PhD at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa looking at English and English-based creoles. Simón Gonzalez Ochoa is also new to the team, having arrived at the end of 2016 from a position at Griffith University, working on a project exploring West Australian English.

James and Simón will be based at ANU as they work to better understand how Sydney's growing diversity has an effect on Australian English. 

Sydney Speaks Poster, presented at CoEDL Fest, February 2016, Western Sydney University

At the first CoEDL Fest of 2016, we presented the poster below, which outlines the scope of the Sydney Speaks Project and the directions in which we hope to take it in the coming years.

Click on the image to view a larger PDF of the poster.

Launch of the Sydney Speaks Project: 26-27 November 2015

In November 2015, we launched the project as part of a two-day workshop, which included presentations by Barbara Horvath (University of Sydney) and Greg Guy (New York University). View the program and abstracts here.

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University

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