The Modern RP Page


Anne H. Fabricius

Associate Professor of English Language

Department of Culture and Identity (CUID)

Roskilde University


Coming up: Some reflections on Normalization procedures: Lobanov versus mW&F






I trained as a linguist in Australia (University of Queensland, Australian National University) and Denmark (Copenhagen Business School). For an introduction to the field of Linguistics, see the Linguistic Society of America’s homepage here. My own original primary research area is Quantitative Sociolinguistics and Sociophonetics, aimed at describing and explaining sociophonetic variation and change processes  (both from subjective and objective perspectives) in modern RP in the sociolinguistic landscape of the UK. My Ph.D. was a study of patterns in the pronunciations of word-final /t/ by upper middle class young adults in England. They were following their peers from other social backgrounds in no longer treating the ‘glottal stop’ for word-final t (as in words like not or that) as a socially ‘shameful’ way to speak, and this had consequences for their linguistic behaviour. Since then, I have mostly worked on variation in their vowel pronunciations (e.g. in my publication in the Journal of the International Phonetic Association in 2007). Arising from these studies, I also have a keen interest in developing normalisation and visual representation methodology for sociophonetic studies, mainly in cooperation with Dominic Watt at the University of York in the UK, and Tyler Kendall (University of Oregon) in the US, but also in dialogue with other sociolinguists with an interest in the field, such as Alicia Wassink and Malcah Yaeger-Dror.


CALPIU: Cultural and Linguistic Practices in the International University


My second major research area is in work examining internationalization processes and the multilingual landscape of Danish Higher Education and in workplaces in general. Denmark’s Higher Education landscape is currently (and has been for a while) in a process of transformation and reconfiguration from being a more national-focussed sector to being more internationally oriented, something that has been fostered by political interests. This is also presently happening all over the EU, as transnational political, economic and social currents make themselves felt in the local context. The Bologna Process is just one aspect of this.  I am a member of the CALPIU Research Centre and its Steering Committee, based at Roskilde University, where I work on project management, data collection, storing and analysis procedures, as well as on empirical and theoretical aspects of the process of internationalisation of Danish universities and the sociolinguistic challenges arising from it. My special interest within this area is within language ideology and meta-language, where I am interested in looking at the categorizations and constructs that are put into play in such contexts. The CALPIU Research Centre has been established with the financial support of the Danish Research Council for the Humanities, FKK (Forskningsråd for Kultur og Kommunikation), and runs until 1st November 2012. We will be holding a CALPIU conference in April 2012 here in Roskilde. See the conference call here.


Our co-edited CALPIU book, published by Multilingual Matters (2011):


Preisler, Bent, Ida Klitgård and Anne Fabricius, eds. 2011. Language and Learning in the International University: From English Uniformity to Diversity and Hybridity. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters




The major research paradigm that I have worked in since 1997 is called “Language Variation and Change”, “Sociophonetics” “Quantitative sociolinguistics” or even “Labovian Sociolinguistics” as a reference to its central figure, William Labov. Its fascination for many people lies in the chance to observe and analyse the different ways in which different individuals speak, and what consequences this has in their lives. My own work looks at accentual (pronunciation) variation and explores its consequences within wider issues such as ongoing processes of language change, individual identity construction, language ideology at an interactional level, and the social ramifications of linguistic variation.

What is modern RP?  And My Ph.D. thesis in PDF format (Fabricius 2000). 

Some expert phonetics and sociolinguistics resources can be found here


The Estuary English Page

John Wells’ Phonetics Blog

The University of York Department of Language and Linguistic Science


Here is one superb site on accent and dialect variation in the UK, hosted by the British Library


Sounds familiar?


Here are some audio samples you are free to use for teaching purposes:

Interview speech: (female born 1976)   (male born 1973.  Both recorded in 1997/8

Reading Passage speech: example 1, 2, 3, 4. All recorded in 2008


Powerpoints from conference presentations and talks

Essex 2005 Guest lecture, Essex University, UK, 2005

SS15 Conference Presentation, Newcastle UK, 2004

Methods 12 Conference Presentation, Moncton Canada, 2005

BAAP 2006 Poster, Edinburgh, 2007

SS16 Conference Presentation, Limerick, 2006 (the sound files should work here)

Handout from SS16 in 2006

Vokalforandring ivirkelig tid’ (a talk in Danish given to the SCALPS research group at Roskilde University, 30th March 2007)

My poster presentation at ICPhS Saarbrücken in August 2007 on the short vowel system of Modern RP and diachronic change

My NWAV36 paper from October 2007 is here. This paper has  appeared in Acta Linguistica Hafniensis.

A paper given at the Sociolinguistics Circle of Copenhagen, September 2008, on normalisation.

Guest lectures given at University of York, 13 November 2008 and University of Cambridge, 2nd  December 2008, on modern RP in real time

My paper from ICLaVE#5 in Copenhagen, June 2009

Workshop paper for NWAV38 in Ottawa (without animations; if you would like the animated version, please email me)

SS18: Beyond Averages paper, co-authored with Dominic Watt (powerpoint)

SS18: Standard Language Ideologies paper, co-authored with Janus Mortensen (powerpoint)

ICLaVE#6: Reflections from the outside and the inside: construct resources and “modern RP” in interaction, co-authored Anne Fabricius and Janus Mortensen



On sociophonetic normalisation methodology:

Why do we normalize vowel formant data?

Because individual people’s heads have slightly different sizes, as well as different proportions between the oral and pharyngeal cavities (the size of the mouth and the size of the throat), and even differ in for example the concavity of the palate. Thus, the acoustic properties of the sound wave an individual person produces when speaking aren’t really directly comparable with any another individual’s speech unless some form of mathematical normalisation takes place. We possibly all do a type of daily normalisation in our heads as well, for example, when we can understand children and adults saying the same words, even though their voices sound very different. (Not all theoreticians would agree that that is how it happens: maybe we ‘remember’, subconsciously, many fine-grained details about the utterances we hear around us, but that is another story). 


Sociolinguists are interested in language change,  for instances in differences between the pronunciation of older and younger speakers. Normalisation is one of the key procedures you need when you study vowel change, because you have to make sure that the differences you see between say, older men’s and younger women’s speech patterns, are really due to generational changes (that is, the younger generation speaks differently) and not just the fact that men’s and women’s heads are different sizes. Here are some resources related to my work in this area:


·         Read more about normalisation procedures and use the Watt and Fabricius S-centroid procedure, as well as others on this important and highly useful site by Eric Thomas and Tyler Kendall:    NORM Suite of Normalization Methods

·         The original paper by Dominic Watt and myself from 2002 on the S-centroid-procedure, a sociophonetic vowel normalisation procedure.
·         A Conference Paper presented at BAAP 2008 by Anne Fabricius, Dom Watt and Jillian Yurkova on initial evaluations of the Watt and Fabricius normalization procedure in comparison with other speaker intrinsic, vowel extrinsic, formant intrinsic methods (Lobanov and Nearey)
·         The above paper developed into a publication with Dom Watt and Daniel Ezra Johnson in Language Variation and Change in 2009:
Anne Fabricius, Dominic Watt and Daniel Ezra Johnson. 2009. A comparison of three speaker-intrinsic vowel formant frequency normalization algorithms for sociophonetics. Language Variation and Change, 21,3: 413-435.
·         Dom Watt, Tyler Kendall and myself have written a chapter on Plotting and Normalization for Sociophonetics: A student’s guide, edited by Marianna di Paolo and Malcah Yaeger-Dror.
·         See here for files related to the S-centroid anchor method (presented in our (Fabricius and Watt) SS18 Beyond Averages paper, above): the R script, the chart template
·         A joint poster with Dom Watt (Pisa, December 2010) on sociophonetic visual/graphic methods can be seen here


·         Normalization and Plotting, a powerpoint file from the LSA institute in Boulder, July 2011. By Anne Fabricius, Tyler Kendall and Dominic Watt. After this workshop, we also did similar and expanded workshops at University of York in September 2011 and at the LANCHART Centre University of Copenhagen in November 2011 (with Nicholas Flynn).



Here are some links to recent past and future conferences I have attended or will be attending:


BAAP Colloquium, Sheffield, March 30 to April 2, 2008

American Acoustics Society Conference, ASA08/Eurospeech, Paris, June 30 to July 4, 2008

CALPIU 08, Roskilde, December 2008

ICLAVE5, Copenhagen, June 2009

NWAV38, Ottawa October 2009

Professionalising Multilingualism in Higher Education, Luxembourg, February 4-6, 2010

Sociolinguistics Symposium 18, Southhampton, 1-4 September 2010

i-mean2, Bristol, April 13th to 15th 2011

ICLaVE6, Freiburg, June 29-July 1, 2011

CALPIU’12, Roskilde, 1-4 April 2012

Sociolinguistics Symposium 19, Berlin, August 2012

Advances in Visual Methods in Linguistics, York, September 2012






My fully-updated publications and activities list can be found here on RUCforsk. I frequently give lectures at conferences and for groups of PhD students. If you are interested in contacting me about a proposed lecture, please e-mail me (my contact details are on RUC’s homepage under ‘Søg person/Find person’).


TEACHING at Roskilde University


I teach within the areas of sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, phonetics, and advanced English for Academic Purposes.


Autumn 2009: MA Phonetics

Spring 2010: English Text and Writing, BA English Linguistic Analysis

Autumn 2010: MA Phonetics, Text and Sign (HIB), Basis I and Basis II for GradEast

Spring 2011: Project supervision at BA and MA levels, Basis II for Phd Students at SDU

Summer 2011: LSA Institute at University of Colorado Boulder, at a Sociophonetics workshop.

Autumn 2011: Text and Sign (HIB), MA Phonetics, Basis I for PhD Students

Spring 2012: English text and Writing (2nd year), Linguistic Analysis (3rd year), Sociolinguistics project supervision (3rd year and MA)





I was Director of Studies for the English programme (BA and MA) at Roskilde University from 1st February 2009 to 1st September 2011. I was in 2010 Director of Grad East (Forskerskole Øst i Sprogvidenskab), the previous PhD research programme in Linguistics for East Denmark. I am vice-director of the research group SCALPS at Roskilde University. I  am a member of our Departmental Council and its Job Market consultant group. I am also on the steering committee for internationalisation at Roskilde University.




Published: 21 February 2012 


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*** CALPIU transcription test segments are here: ENGLISH, GERMAN, DANISH