Janet Holmes

Emerita Professor School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies

Research interests

  • Language and Gender
  • Language in the Workplace
  • New Zealand English.
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BA Hons Leeds, MPhil Leeds, FRSNZ

Janet Holmes is Emeritus Professor in Linguistics at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (2016). She is Associate 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. 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 fifth edition, the first book of articles in sociolinguistics, Sociolinguistics, co-edited with John Pride, a book on sociolinguistic methodology co-edited with Kirk Hazen Research Methods in Sociolinguistics, 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, Gender and Sexuality, co-edited with Susan Ehrlich and Miriam Meyerhoff, 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 published a book Leadership, Discourse and Ethnicity, describing the results of a research project which explored cultural differences in workplace communication patterns. The research focusses 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 has been involved 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 has also undetaken research to assist refugees to manage the challenges of workplace English. And most recently they are investigating the intercultural communication challenges between tourists and New Zealanders in the hospitality industry.

Selected publications

  • 2017 Holmes, Janet and Nick Wilson An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. Fifth Edition. London: Pearson.
  • 2015 Holmes, Janet and Maria Stubbe (2nd edition) Power and Politeness in the Workplace. London and New York: Routledge.
  • 2014  Ehrlich, Susan,  Miriam Meyerhoff  and Janet Holmes (eds) The Handbook of Language, Gender and Sexuality. Malden, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • 2014 Holmes, Janet and Kirk Hazen (eds). Research Methods in Sociolinguistics: A Practical Guide.  Oxford; Malden MA: Wiley Blackwell.
  • 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.

Curriculum vitae and publications

View curriculum vitae and publications by Janet Holmes