I study sociolinguistics, specifically, how individuals interact with language to conceptualize and construct identity of both self and others. I’m especially interested in how individuals who cross traditional racial/ethnic boundaries reflect multiple social identities through linguistic practices. Specifically, I examine the use of suprasegmental features that speakers may employ in the performance of their ethnic identities. The focus of my dissertation was intra- and interspeaker prosodic variation in the sociolinguistic behavior of American black/biracial young men.
In April 2016, I defended my dissertation entitled “Intonational Variation, Linguistic Style, and the Black/Biracial Experience” at New York University. My dissertation chair was Renee Blake, and my committee consisted of Lisa Davidson, Greg Guy, John Singler, and Erik Thomas (NCSU). In 2016-2017, I was a Chau Mellon Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science at Pomona College. From 2017-2020, I was an Assistant Professor of Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science at Pomona College. Since July 2020, I have been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania.
My ongoing research aims to address aspects of the question “What does it mean to sound black?” from the perspectives of speakers and listeners, with a special focus on intonational and prosodic variables. In Fall 2020, I taught a Freshman seminar on Language and Social Identity, as well as a graduate research seminar on Prosody and Social Identity. I’m on research leave during 2021.
-In July 2021, alongside co-host Ben Zimmer, I launched the Slate’s new Language Podcast, Spectacular Vernacular. New episodes every other Tuesday, wherever you get your pods!
-On April 23, 2021, I was quoted in the Consumer Reports piece “Hey Siri, Is That You? Apple’s New Voices Resonate With Some Black iPhone Users”.
-On February 19, 2021, I presented a talk in the Georgetown University Linguistic Colloquium series entitled “Kamala Harris and the Construction of Complex Ethnolinguistic Political Identity”.
-On January 22, 2021, I presented a talk in the University of Toronto’s Linguistic Colloquium series entitled “Sociolinguistic Variation and Identity Among Black/Biracial Men”.
-On September 26, 2020, I was a special guest at Duolingo’s 2nd Annual DuoCon, discussing sociolinguistic competence. A recording of the talk can be found here: https://www.duolingo.com/duocon
-In August 2020, I presented a talk with Marie Tano (Pomona College ’21) at the Second Annual Advancing African American Linguistics Symposium (online). Our talk was entitled ““It’s a Whole Vibe” Testing Evaluations of Grammatical and Ungrammatical AAE on Twitter”.
-In July 2020, I spoke with Elizabeth Wellington of the Philadelphia Inquirer about lexical change and the boundaries around what what we consider offensive now.
-In May 2020, I presented a paper called “Prosody and Political Style: The Case of Barack Obama and the L+H* Pitch Accent” at Speech Prosody 2020
in Tokyo, Japan (online due to COVID-19), with coauthors Jason Bishop (CUNY Graduate Center) and Grace Kuo (National Taiwan University)
-Mainstream U.S. English (Native)
-African American English (Native)
-Peruvians Spanish (Near-native)
-Bolivian Quechua (Intermediate)
-Cairene Arabic (Beginner)
-Ph.D., Linguistics, New York University (2016). Dissertation Title: Intonational Variation, Linguistic Style, and the Black/Biracial Experience. Supervisor: Renee Blake
-M.A., Linguistics, New York University, New York, NY (2014)
-B.A., Magna Cum Laude with Honors and Research Distinction in Linguistics; Linguistics, Spanish. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio (2010)
-Lyle Spencer Research Award. “‘Don’t Take That Tone With Me’: Linguistic Variation and Disciplinary Action on African American Children in Schools”. PI. With Dr. Sabriya Fisher, Co-PI. Award Amount: $878,869 (2020-2023)
-Chau Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship-Pomona College (2016-2017)
-New York University Global Research Initiative Fellowship at NYU Washington, D.C. (2015)
-NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (2015-2016)
-National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (2013-2016)
-Linguistic Society of America Summer Institute Fellowship (2013)
Links to Linguists I Like
–Vocal Fries Pod
–Because Language Pod