I am so excited to announce that I have been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to support a three-year project examining dialect variation and change in mobile speakers! You can read the abstract (written for public consumption) here; stay tuned to this site for more details as the project gets set up! (or find me during my talks & travels this semester)
This semester I'll be teaching two courses - one old, one new, both very exciting for me! (Click course titles for syllabuses)
LING 481 (Sociolinguistic Variation) is a graduate-level introduction to variationist sociolinguistics. This year I'm trying something different - instead of a series of articles, each tied to a narrow topic, the course will have two "anchor" texts - Labov (1966/2006)'s The Social Stratification of English in New York City and Penelope Eckert (2000's) Language Variation as Social Practice - complemented by additional readings. The idea is to work our way through the three "waves" of variation, revisiting questions such as how do we define coherent groups for study? And what causes/underlies variation? through different perspectives. Fortuitously, Eckert and Labov have just published a paper together in the most recent Journal of Sociolinguistics, which will really tie everything together near the end of the term. It's going to be a big class (20 currently enrolled) so I anticipate great discussions!
LING 400 is the Senior Thesis seminar, which I am leading for the first time as Director of Undergraduate Studies. Seven senior majors are enrolled in this year-long course, working on diverse topics such as the syntax of the left periphery in a dialect of Chinese, the discourse of online video chats, and how multilingual people acquire a third language. I love working with students on their own projects and guiding them through the research process, so I'm really looking forward to this year!
Last month I spoke to the guys at the pretty-new, DC-based podcast Here's How I Think This Works:
On Episode 6 of Here’s How I Think This Works, we talk about talking. We discuss when and why people started talking, what distinguishes lower forms of communication from a full-blown language, how different languages emerged, and how technology continues to drive the evolution of language. When we’re done talking amongst ourselves, we bring on guest expert Jennifer Nycz, Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University. Jennifer explains why most of what popular culture has taught us about linguistics is incorrect (apologies to fans of Arrival and Eskimo lore), and how different accents emerge among a population.
It was a lot of fun - looking forward to hearing more episodes!