Welcome

I'm currently a final-year PhD student in linguistics at the University of Manchester; I'm also joint Phonetics Lab assistant (with Kǎiyuè Xíng).

The main theme of my research is the investigation of sound change using experimental and quantitative methods. In addition to this, I have worked on more strictly formal approaches to synchronic phonological problems (especially processes of (dis)harmony). I'm also interested, more generally speaking, in under-documented and under-investigated languages as well as various aspects of linguistic typology.

My PhD project—supervised by Wendell Kimper and Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero (and previously Yuni Kim)—uses production, language-learning, perception and vowel-frequency data to explore the grounding of vowel height harmony in the Bantu languages, currently with a particular focus on the five-vowel languages in the family (e.g. Swahili, Shona, Kinyarwanda) as well as the Bantu languages of Zambia (especially Bemba, Lozi, Nyanja).

Research

Publications

Beavers, John, Michael Everdell, Kyle Jerro, Henri Kauhanen, Andrew Koontz-Garboden, Elise LeBovidge & Stephen Nichols. Under review. Two Types of States: A Cross-linguistic Study of Change-of-State Verb Roots. Unpublished manuscript, University of Texas at Austin, University of Essex, Universität Konstanz, University of Manchester and University of Washington. [ms]

Beavers, John, Michael Everdell, Kyle Jerro, Henri Kauhanen, Andrew Koontz-Garboden, Elise LeBovidge & Stephen Nichols. 2017. Two types of states: A cross-linguistic study of change-of-state verb roots. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Linguistics Society of America 91. 1–15. DOI: 10.3765/plsa.v2i0.4094.

Invited talks

Nichols, Stephen & George Bailey. 2019. [ʃ]tranger things have happened: Retraction in (str) and (stj) clusters in Manchester English. Invited talk given at the Glasgow University Laboratory of Phonetics Lab Lunch, Glasgow, UK, 6 June. [slides]

Nichols, Stephen & George Bailey. 2018. All paths lead to [ʃ]: Varying sibilant articulation and s-retraction in Manchester English. Invited talk given at the University of Manchester Linguistics and English Language Research Seminar, Manchester, UK, 9 October. [slides]

Conference talks and posters

Bailey, George, Stephen Nichols, Maciej Baranowski & Danielle Turton. 2019. Affrication as the cause of s-retraction: Community-level change in Manchester English. Talk given at New Ways of Analyzing Variation 48, Eugene, OR, US, 10–12 October. [slides]

Nichols, Stephen & Henri Kauhanen. 2019. Vowel-pair rank–frequency distributions are polylogarithmic. Talk given at the Annual Meeting of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain, London, UK, 9–12 September. [slides]

Bailey, George, Stephen Nichols, Maciej Baranowski & Danielle Turton. 2019. A [ʃ]triking change in Manchester English. Talk given at UK Language Variation and Change 12, London, UK, 3–5 September. [slides]

Nichols, Stephen. 2019. Asymmetries in vowel-pair frequencies and height harmony in Bantu. Talk given at the 50th Annual Conference on African Linguistics, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 23–25 May. [slides]

Nichols, Stephen. 2019. A study of vowel-pair frequencies in Lozi: Implications for formal analyses. Talk given at the Manchester Forum in Linguistics, Manchester, UK, 2–3 May. [slides]

Nichols, Stephen. 2019. Vowel-pair frequencies and phonotactic restrictions in Lozi. Talk given at the Philological Society Early Career Researcher Forum, Oxford, UK, 8–9 March. [slides]

Nichols, Stephen. 2019. Vowel-pair frequencies and phonotactic restrictions in Lozi. Poster presented at Fonologi i Norden, Edinburgh, UK, 22–23 February. [poster]

Nichols, Stephen & George Bailey. 2018. Revealing covert articulation in s-retraction. Talk given at the Annual Meeting of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain, Sheffield, UK, 11–14 September. [slides]

Nichols, Stephen. 2018. A workflow and methodology for investigating vowel-to-vowel coarticulation. Talk given at the 13th Annual Language at the University of Essex Conference, Colchester, UK, 14 June. [slides]

Bailey, George & Stephen Nichols. 2018. Patterns of s-retraction in Manchester English: Investigating categoricity with ultrasound. Poster presented at the 26th Manchester Phonology Meeting, Manchester, UK, 24–26 May. [poster] [references]

Nichols, Stephen & George Bailey. 2018. Gradience and categoricity in s-retraction: An ultrasound study of Manchester English. Poster presented at the Colloquium of the British Association of Academic Phoneticians, Canterbury, UK, 12–14 April. [poster] [references] [appendix]

Bailey, George & Stephen Nichols. 2018. Retraction on Coronation [ʃ]treet: An ultrasound-tongue-imaging study of s-retraction in Manchester English. Talk given at the 8th Northern Englishes Workshop, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, 27–28 March. [slides]

Nichols, Stephen. 2018. Accounting for height harmony in five-vowel Bantu languages: Positional faithfulness and feature co-occurrence constraints. Talk given at the 49th Annual Conference on African Linguistics, East Lansing, MI, US, 22–25 March. [slides]

Nichols, Stephen. 2018. Positional faithfulness and feature co-occurrence constraints in the height harmony systems of five-vowel Bantu languages. Talk given at the 15th Old World Conference in Phonology, London, UK, 12–14 January. [handout]

Nichols, Stephen. 2017. Nasal harmony in Kamaiurá: Syllabification and spreading. Talk given at the Annual Meeting of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain, Canterbury, UK, 4–7 September. [handout]

Nichols, Stephen. 2017. Nasal spreading and syllabification in Kamaiurá. Poster presented at the 25th Manchester Phonology Meeting, Manchester, UK, 25–27 May. [poster]

Gopal, Deepthi, Henri Kauhanen & Stephen Nichols. 2017. Modelling similarity-driven phonological generalisations. Poster presented at the 4th International Workshop on Sound Change, Edinburgh, UK, 20–22 April. [poster]

Gopal, Deepthi & Stephen Nichols. 2017. Sonorant-conditioned mid vowel lowering in Turkish. Talk given at the 14th Old World Conference in Phonology, Düsseldorf, Germany, 20–22 February. [handout]

Beavers, John, Michael Everdell, Kyle Jerro, Henri Kauhanen, Andrew Koontz-Garboden, Elise LeBovidge & Stephen Nichols. 2017. Two Types of States: A Cross-Linguistic Study of Change-of-State Verb Roots. Talk given at the 91st Annual Meeting of the Linguistics Society of America, Austin, TX, US, 5–8 January. [handout]

Nichols, Stephen. 2016. The representation of nasality in Konai. Talk given at the CLUL Linguistics Meeting for Young Researchers, Lisbon, Portugal, 16 June. [handout]

Gopal, Deepthi & Stephen Nichols. 2016. Sonorant-conditioned mid vowel lowering in Turkish. Talk given at the 24th Manchester Phonology Meeting, Manchester, UK, 26–28 May. [handout]

Nichols, Stephen. 2016. Nasal cluster dissimilation in Ngarinyman. Poster presented at the 24th Manchester Phonology Meeting, Manchester, UK, 26–28 May. [poster]

Nichols, Stephen. 2016. An acoustic study of the Turkish rhotic. Poster presented at the 5th International Workshop on Phonetic, Phonological, Acquisitional, Sociolinguistic and Dialect-Geographic Aspects of Rhotics, Leeuwarden, Netherlands, 18–20 May. [poster]

Dissertations

Nichols, Stephen. 2015. Topics in the phonology of Konai, a Papuan language of New Guinea. MA dissertation, University of Manchester. (supervised by Yuni Kim; available upon request) [abstract]

Personal

Even when not working, I spend a lot of time around languages. I love to learn new ones and have tried my hand at a two or three dozen (to varying degrees of success and failure). Indeed, it was this that led me to linguistics in the first place.

Aside from languages, one of my major interests is science, mainly physics and zoology. My interest in latter has seen me spend several days of my life visiting zoos up and down the land. I also enjoy many things historical, political and philosophical. I get all these fixes in book, documentary or podcast form. As for TV, I've probably spent around 700 hours of my life watching The Simpsons. And, saving the best for last, I'm a huge fan of the greatest football team in the world: Manchester United.

Curriculum vitae

Education

09/2016–present: PhD in Linguistics, University of Manchester.

09/2014–09/2015: MA in Linguistics, University of Manchester, distinction.

10/2010–07/2014: BA (Hons) in French and Russian, University of Bristol, 2:1.

Research assistantships

09/2015–09/2016: The Meaning of Verbal Roots Across Languages, Andrew Koontz-Garboden, University of Manchester and John Beavers, University of Texas at Austin.

11/2015–02/2016: Segmentation and transcription of Ngarinyman fieldwork recordings, Eva Schultze-Berndt, University of Manchester.

Teaching assistantships

2018–19, semester 2: Phonology, LELA20012, 2nd year undergraduate, University of Manchester. Course leader: Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero.

2018–19, semester 1: Quantitative Methods in Language Sciences, LELA20231, 2nd year undergraduate, University of Manchester. Course leader: Patrycja Strycharczuk.

2017–18, semester 2: The Sounds of Language, LELA10322, 1st year undergraduate, University of Manchester. Course leader: Patrycja Strycharczuk.

2017–18, semester 1: Typology, LELA20031, 2nd year undergraduate, University of Manchester. Course leader: Eva Schultze-Berndt.

Other employment

09/2017–present: Phonetics Lab assistant, University of Manchester (with Stefano Coretta until 08/2018; with Kǎiyuè Xíng from 09/2018).

Awards

April 2018: The Eugénie Henderson Prize for the best poster presentation at the Colloquium of the British Association of Academic Phoneticians (for joint work with George Bailey).

2016–19: Postgraduate Research Studentship (School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, Faculty of Humanities, University of Manchester).

Service

2017–19: Organising committee member, 2018 and 2019 Manchester Fora in Linguistics.

2016–17: Lead organiser, 2017 Manchester Forum in Linguistics.

2016–17: Organisatory helper, 24th and 25th Manchester Phonology Meetings.

Memberships

2019–present: The Philological Society.

2018–present: British Association of Academic Phoneticians.

2018–present: Association of Contemporary African Linguistics.

2014–present: Linguistics Association of Great Britain.

Contact

I can be reached by e-mail at:

stephen(dot)nichols(at)manchester(dot)ac(dot)uk

If for any reason you require a postal address, your best bet is probably:

Phonetics Lab, S1.24, Samuel Alexander Building, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester. M13 9PL.

Otherwise just come and see me in person in the lab.