School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies

Prof Janet Holmes

Emerita Professor
School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies

Phone: 04 463 5619
Location: Room 415, Von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Pde, Kelburn Campus

Prof Janet Holmes

BA Hons Leeds, MPhil Leeds, FRSNZ

Janet Holmes is Emeritus Professor in Linguistics at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. She is Director of the Wellington Language in the Workplace project, an ongoing study of communication in the workplace which has described small talk, humour, management strategies, directives, and leadership in a wide range of New Zealand workplaces. (See She was also Director of the project which produced the Wellington Corpus of Spoken New Zealand English which is available on CD-ROM. In the early 1990s, with Allan Bell and Mary Boyce, she conducted the first social dialect survey of New Zealand English in the Wellington area. Her publications include a textbook, An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, now in its fourth edition, a book of readings, Sociolinguistics, co-edited with John Pride, the first book of sociolinguistic and pragmatic articles on New Zealand English, New Zealand Ways of Speaking English, co-edited with Allan Bell, several  books on language and gender, including Gendered Talk at Work, Women, Men and Politeness, the Blackwell Handbook of Language and Gender, co-edited with Miriam Meyerhoff, 2nd edition 2014, and an edited collection of papers Gendered Speech in Social Context.   She has also published on a range of sociolinguistic and pragmatics topics, including New Zealand English, New Zealand women's usage, sexist language, pragmatic particles and hedges, compliments, apologies, disagreement, humour and small talk, and many other aspects of workplace discourse.

Current Research Projects

The Language in the Workplace (LWP) Project team has recently published a book Leadership, Discourse and Ethnicity, describing the results of a research project which explored cultural differences in workplace communication patterns. The research focusse especially on similarities and differences between Māori and Pākehā leaders in Māori and Pākehā workplaces including the way that people manage meetings, the role of narrative in workplace interaction, and the functions of humour in different workplaces. The LWP team is currently engaged in a project which follows skilled migrants into New Zealand workplaces in order to identify the communication issues they encounter as well as the attitudinal challenges which they have to deal with. The team is also piloting research to assist recently arrived refugees to manage the challenges of workplace English.

Selected Publications

  • 2014 Holmes, Janet and Kirk Hazen (eds). Research Methods in Sociolinguistics: A Practical Guide.  Oxford; Malden MA: Wiley Blackwell.
  • 2014  Ehrlich, Susan,  Miriam Meyerhoff  and Janet Holmes (eds) The Handbook of Language, Gender and Sexuality. Malden, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • 2013 Holmes, Janet An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. Fourth Edition. London: Pearson.
  • 2011 Holmes, Janet, Meredith Marra and Bernadette Vine Leadership, Discourse and Ethnicity Oxford University Press.
  • 2011 Laurie Bauer, Dianne Bardsley, Janet Holmes and Paul Warren Q and Eh: Questions and Answer on Language with a Kiwi Twist.
  • 2006 Holmes, Janet Gendered Talk at Work: Constructing Gender Identity through Workplace Discourse. New York, Oxford: Blackwell.
  • 2006   Laurie Bauer, Janet Holmes and Paul Warren. Language Matters.  Palgrave Macmillan. 
  • 2003 Holmes, Janet and Maria Stubbe. Power and Politeness in the Workplace: a Sociolinguistic Analysis of Talk at Work. London: Pearson.
  • 2000 Editor. Gendered Speech in Social Context: Perspectives from Gown and Town. Wellington: Victoria University Press.

Curriculum Vitae and Publications

View curriculum vitae and publications by Janet Holmes

Research Areas

Janet supervises MA and PhD research in the areas of language and gender, workplace communication, and New Zealand English.

Administrative Responsibilities

  • LALS Advisory Committee
  • Professorial Promotions Committee
  • University Research Excellence Awards Committee