Research

I’m interested in how people use socially meaningful linguistic variation to understand themselves and others.

What does this mean?

By linguistic variation I’m talking about differences in the way people speak. These differences can be really noticeable, like geographical accents, but also really subtle, like slightly different pronunciations of a vowel by the same speaker across one conversation. Speakers use these linguistic differences, big and small, to do things like construct a persona, create group identities, navigate conversations, and signal ideological affiliations.

I take the position that linguistic variation is ideological variation. Understanding the ways in which language and ideology work together is at the heart of my research.

My dissertation

My dissertation applies some of these questions to young children’s language. In particular, my work explores what socially meaningful linguistic variation looks like among preschoolers, how they construct linguistic styles, and how they use these styles to navigate their social landscape.

Education

I received my M.A. in Linguistics from Queen Mary, University of London in 2016.  My M.A. dissertation looked at the use of creaky voice (or vocal fry) amongst a small cohort of middle and upper-middle class London millennials. I presented some of this work in a talk at NWAV46. You can see those slides here.

Before that, I received my B.A. in Linguistics from SOAS, University of London in 2014.  My B.A. dissertation explored possible social motivations for ideophone loss (highly expressive, sensory, “iconic” words) in two very different linguistic and social situations: Zulu and Quechua. Some of these ideas were covered in a talk I gave at Nanzan University in November 2017 at Workshop in Mimetics II: New approaches to old questions. You can see those slides here and learn more about ideophones here.