My Research in 1 minute
I am primarily interested in how lesser-studied languages of the world can help the field of Linguistics answer our biggest questions.
Not only do the voices and knowledge of under-represented communities deserve a place in the academic discussion, but indeed the future study of all areas of language is contingent upon the immediate documentation and description of the world's fast disappearing languages.
In particular, I have focused my research on the phonology and grammar of Ende, a Pahoturi River language spoken in southern New Guinea.
Sociolinguistic Variation: The case of the missing /n/ (2018)
My newest project is looking at phonological, morphological, lexical, and sociolinguistic variables to understand why word-final /n/ often disappears in Ende speech. I gathered 64 sociolinguistic interviews in my fourth fieldtrip in 2018 to help answer this question! It will form the third chapter of my dissertation.
Ende Phonology: The case of the floating segments (2017-2018)
Ende verbs have a surprising characteristic: nasal segments like /m/, /n/, and /ng/ float along Ende roots, shifting positions depending on the context of the root, docking onto voiced or voiceless obstruents. It's a beautiful system and will form the fourth chapter of my dissertation.
The Pahoturi River language family consists of six varieties or languages: Ende, Idi, Agob, Kawam, Tame, and Em. How are they similar? How are they different? How many Pahoturi River languages were there and where were they spoken? How did these languages diverge so much in such a small geographical area?
"Vanishing" Case in Turkish (2016)
This project looked at differential marking of objects and subjects in Turkish.
It has been said that Chuvash stress ignores general principles of metrical theory, such as having syllabic or moraic feet. Sonority-sensitive feet provide an elegant solution! Learn more, watch me present and download a handout.
This project takes a new approach to gathering kinship data cross-linguistically. Importantly, this survey makes fewer assumptions about the structure of kinship systems, and is also intuitive enough to gather data on a large scale from a wide range of consultants.
Young children take much longer to answer questions than older children and adults - but why? Is this a lag in comprehension? Cognition? Articulation? Social cues? This case-study with Eve Clark looked at how one child answered Where/Which? questions with gestural or verbal responses over a three-year period. Click here for our results!
The 2010 Russian Census reports that ~1.25 million people speak Chuvash and Ethnologue gives Chuvash a high language vitality rating of 4/13, and yet it's difficult to find young Chuvash speakers in Chuvashia. Whence the disparity? This survey used two tools, the HALA psycholinguistic tool and the BLP sociolinguistic survey for measuring bilingual language dominance. See results and conference poster here.
Research that Inspires Me
ask the right questions
There are three aspects to Dr. Gray's work that inspire me in my own research: quality, quantity and breadth. Not only is Dr. Gray asking some of the most important and brilliant questions of this century, but his inquiries are endless and extend beyond the domains of language to all cognition, beyond humans to all animals, and beyond what is reasonably knowable to everything we can imagine. His questions inspire my own "big questions" and keep me on the edge of my seat.
ask the right questions
in the right way
Like Dr. Russell Gray and Dr. Claire Bowern, Dr. Judith Tonhauser's work is an 11 on a 10 point scale. I've had the privilege of twice being advised by Judith in my own fieldwork. What I really admire about her work is her approach to theory and methodology. I've learned from Judith that it's not enough to ask native speakers questions about their language, we have to build a theory for how to ask questions and how to interpret their answers. Only then can we start asking the really important questions.
for the right questions
in the right way
Dr. Bowern's work and work ethic have inspired me since I took her class on Linguistic Fieldwork in 2013. The field of Linguistics is not only indebted to Dr. Bowern for her bountiful contributions to the field, both theoretically and descriptively, but also to her invaluable and gracious efforts to provide all linguists with the materials to become good fieldworkers. This doesn't only include explicitly instructive materials like her book "Linguistic Fieldwork" but also her exquisite grammar of Bardi.
I am so fortunate to have started my career at Stanford with such an amazing and diverse group of linguists from all over the world!