Yes I'm always this excited!Welcome! I am a sociolinguist with interests in variation and change, dialectology, ethnicity, sex/gender/sexuality, and social meaning. You can take a look at the courses I teach at Reed on the Teaching page, and read a bit about my research here.

And yes - I'm always this excited about sociolinguistics! ---->

Research Interests


The NYCE Boroughs Project. A widely-held language ideology of New Yorkers is that they can distinguish native speakers by borough. Most linguists believe there are actually no differences, but instead that New Yorkers use borough as a proxy for class, laminating working-class ideologies onto outer boroguhs like Brooklyn, and middle-class ideolgies onto Manhattan. I explore this through an interactive website,, where anyone can go and take a series of quizzes testing your ability to identify a borough accent. Take the quizzes, add your voice, and share widely!

West Coast Dialectology. Since moving to Portland I have had the pleasure of studying this emerging dialect region from a variety of perspectives. I have a paper, co-authored with three of my amazing former students, on vowel production in Oregon, "Variation in West Coast English: The case of Oregon," in a 2016 PADS volume on Speech in the Western States.  In it, a production analysis of the speech of 34 Oregonians (collected in 2012), found participation in the General West Coast features of BOOT and BOAT fronting and low back merger, as well as evidence of early participation in the California Vowel Shift (CVS, though see below!) with change in apparent time that points towards further participation. Additionally, Oregonians participate in /æg/ (BAG) and /ɛg/ (BEG) tensing, suggested to be distinctive features of the Pacific Northwest. Participants who express an Ideology of Non-Accent on a map task are more likely to participate in BAG and BEG tensing and less likely to rotate CVS vowels. 

Building off the work in production, I have a number of works in progress looking at the perception of West Coast dialect features, in collaboration with students (Richard Adcock, Manon Semrau) and my colleague Julia Swan. This work appears to demonstrate that listeners are at an early stage of perception of features like the Elsewhere Shift and BAG-raising, particularly when it comes to assigning social meaning to them.

Finally, I've been working on uniting the accounts of the California and Canadian Vowel Shifts, with a structural account that argues they are the same shift, a phonological response to low back merger found increasingly across locales, including Oregon. I organized a panel at the 2018 meeting of the American Dialect society, and this work is in progress towards publication. I think we'll probably call it the LOW-BACK-MERGER SHIFT.

Sex/Gender/Sexuality and Variation. With Sameer ud Dowla Khan, and Lal Zimman (now at UC Santa Barbara), I created a sample of speakers in 2014 who are incredibly diverse with respect to their sex/gender/sexuality identifications. Our corpus includes acoustic, electoglottographic (EGG), and perceptual data. With additional help from the Mellon Foundation, our data has been made available to the larger community of researchers in linguistics on Dataverse. Our initial work with this corpus has been to investigate the complex relationship between s/g/s and use of creaky voice quality (often called "vocal fry" in the media). It turns out that, once we move away from sampling cisgender males and females only, the picture of creaky voice as an "sgs" variable is complicated by the fact that sgs factors do not predict use of creaky voice in our data. Further, a follow-up study with some students finds the same result for /s/-fronting, another "sgs" variable. This work is important for challenging many of the foundational assumptions made in sociolinguistics wrt to sex and gender and variation.

Regionality and Ethnicity. Most traditional approaches to regional dialects in the United States have gathered data primarily from white speakers; yet we increasingly work in urban areas and other communities where diverse residents are born, raised, and interact. I question the fixed boundaries around terms like ethnolect and dialect in a paper in Language and Communication, Linguistic Repertoire and Ethnic Identity in New York City. A similar perspective is taken in my 2010 paper co-authored with Elizabeth L. Coggshall, The vowel phonologies of African American and white New York City residents, where we explore the vowel phonologies of African American and white New Yorkers and find that African American New Yorkers do produce regional features. Elizabeth and I also discuss ethnicity and regionality in our 2009 piece for Language and Linguistics Compass, The sociolinguistics of ethnicity in New York City.

New York City English. My 2010 dissertation revisited the famous Lower East Side of Labov (1966). Many of the interviews that I conducted, as oral histories in collaboration with Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) and CityLore, are currently housed at The Tenement Museum. In my sociolinguistic research I present contemporary quantitative data that update our view of New York City English. I have worked on the complex short-a system of NYCE: with Amy Wong in our 2009 paper The short-a system of New York City English: an update, we found a change away from the complex, phonemic system in favor of a simpler, nasal system for white and Chinese New Yorkers.  I also work on the low back rounded vowel (in words like dog and coffee), or BOUGHT, that is traditionally raised in NYCE. In fact, I find a dramatic reversal of the change in progress towards BOUGHT raising described in Labov (1966) for the Lower East Side. Today, there is a change in apparent time away from raised BOUGHT. I document this change and outline an indexical field of social meanings for raised BOUGHT in my 2014 paper The social motivations of reversal: Raised BOUGHT in New York City English. Finally, I work on /r/ vocalization in NYCE. In my 2009 paper in the Journal of Sociolinguistics, I argued that /r/ vocalization was used by speakers to construct a place identity, so that locally-orientated topics significantly favored non-rhoticity in contrast to non-local topics which favored rhoticity. More recently, I have published a quantitative analysis of (r) for 64 Lower East Side residents in Language Variation and Change, (r) we there yet? The change to rhoticity in New York City English

The Sociolinguistic Artifacts Website. I received funding from Reed in 2012 to develop The Sociolinguistic Artifacts website: This is a central location for “artifacts” – media like video, images, websites and news articles, and audio – that aid the teaching of sociolinguistics in the classroom. The site is currently live and is available to sociolinguists, sociolinguistic students, and sociolinguistic enthusiasts. Check it out, browse artifacts, and feel free to submit your own! I discuss the resource in this 2014 article in American Speech, The Sociolinguistic Artifacts Website: Using media in the Sociolinguistics classroom.