Nichols viva-ed

Posted on May 5, 2021 by

We have a new doctor! LEL’s Stephen Nichols has passed his viva, defending a thesis on “Explorations in the phonology, typology and grounding of height harmony in five-vowel Bantu languages”. The thesis is a multi-pronged approach to investigating the causes and the typological characteristics of vowel harmony, bringing in new data from several Bantu languages. If research of such a scope wasn’t impressive enough in its own right, Stephen somehow managed to combine it with a whole array of other side projects during his time at LEL, from a study of vowel lowering in Turkish, through award-winning articulatory research on /s/-retraction in Manchester English, to a series of collaborative papers in semantics. Not only that, he’s also been teaching (Typology, Quantitative Methods, Sounds of Language), working as a Phonetics Lab Assistant, and he still found time to do things like volunteer for the Insight Day. All this activity has made him extremely popular around the department, even taking into account his controversial Man United fandom, and his annoying ability to pick up any foreign language effortlessly and in no time at all.

The viva itself went very well indeed, and Stephen says it’s a huge relief to be done and extremely gratifying to get recognition of the hard work he’s put in. Manchet congratulates!

The photo below is from Stephen’s viva, featuring Martina Faller (independent chair), Nancy Kula (Essex, external examiner), Will Bennett (Rhodes University, external examiner), Stephen Man of the Hour, Jadzia, Wendell Kimper (supervisor) and Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero