Dr Jonathan Kasstan, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow (Queen Mary University of London)


Jonathan R Kasstan


MPhil (Cantab), PhD (Kent), FHEA. Variationist sociolinguist with research interests in endangered languages, language contact phenomena (esp. language death theory), and, broadly, phonetics and phonology. I am particularly interested in the social network model of linguistic diffusion and change. My PhD thesis (publicised in the journal French Studies Bulletin) explored language change among French and Swiss speakers of Francoprovençal: a severely endangered regional language that has been the subject of very little empirical investigation. Using a corpus of over 50 hours of speech samples collected from 58 research participants in 2012, the study found that, broadly, traditional phonological variants used by native speakers are disappearing in both countries. This finding is broadly consistent with the literature on other regional minority languages spoken in the same regions. However, the study was also concerned with so-called 'new speakers' of Francoprovençal, who acquire the language in an educational context, rather than via the home. The evidence suggests that a pan-regional linguistic norm is emerging among these new speakers, who employ variants that are not only different from traditional norms, but also appear to convey social work. New speakers therefore reveal themselves to be agents of linguistic change as well as important arbiters in the maintenance of a threatened language. Findings from the study will appear in a special issue of the International Journal of the Sociology of Language (Kasstan and Nagy eds. 2018, issue 249).

From 2011-2014 I held the post of Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Kent, where I taught courses in phonetics, phonology, sociolinguistics, and syntax. During the academic year 2014-2015 I held two posts simultaneously: I was Associate Lecturer in the Department of French at the University of Kent, where I taught introductory linguistic theory, and also held the post of Maître de langue in the Département du monde anglophone at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3, where I taught courses in applied phonology and variation in English. Since 2015, I have held the post of Teaching Fellow in Sociolinguistics at Queen Mary University of London, where I convene a number of courses in interactional and variationist sociolinguistics. From September 2017, I will embark on a three-year research project as an Early Career researcher, funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

I am currently a Senior Visiting Fellow in Linguistics at the University of Suffolk, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Kent. I am also Co-editor (2015-Present) of the Association for French Language Studies sister-journal Cahiers. I was Secretary to the Student Committee for the Linguistics Association of Great Britain (LAGB) from 2013-2015. I am currently a member of the Cambridge Endangered Languages and Cultures Group (CELC), the Standard Language Ideology in Contemporary Europe (SLICE) network, and the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Action IS 1306 ‘New Speakers’ network.


For all queries, including: speaking engagements, expertise requests, consulting offers, media interviews, please contact jrkasstan A cantab POINT net.


Department of Linguistics
School of Languages, Linguistics and Film
Queen Mary University of London
Mile End Road
London, E1 4NS

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