I am a sociolinguist, which means I study the relationship between language use and social structures. My current research agenda centers on the interplay between linguistic features and identity factors such as ethnic identification and place orientation. I am interested in the ways that linguistic practices can be impacted by the ways individuals identify with where they are from, especially in contexts where this relationship is complicated by issues of displacement and migration.
Much of my research focuses on linguistic variation within the Southern United States, in particular Louisiana. I have ongoing research projects examining Louisiana French, Cajun English, and New Orleans English. These and other dialects in Louisiana are under-documented in comparison with the rest of the United States, despite linguists remarking on the unique linguistic qualities of this region. If you are interested in studying these language varieties, I have corpora of linguistic data that I can share with you. Please see my contact page for how to get in touch.
My dissertation examined traditional features of New Orleans English in an enclave community outside city limits that was hit particularly hard by Hurricane Katrina. In this project, I examined the speech of individuals who had returned home to rebuild as well as those who had moved away to locales without the same marked local linguistic features. Interestingly, the displaced speakers displayed very similar patterns to those who had returned, demonstrating that physical relocation and rupture of ties with their hometown had not had great linguistic repercussions. However, for linguistic features that had greater local awareness, a better predictor of their variation was speakers’ orientation to their pre- and post-Katrina homes. You can find a copy of my dissertation [here].
My current research project on New Orleans English examines the ways that ethnic identification and place orientation affect linguistic variation in a post-disaster context. Through interviews with native New Orleanians, my collaborator Nathalie Dajko at Tulane University and I are documenting the linguistic variation present in post-Katrina New Orleans, and examining the ways that language practices intersect with other social and political processes ongoing since the storm, such as displacement and gentrification.
Aside from sociolinguistic research, I also love travel, yoga, good coffee and chocolate, photography, and spending time with my husband Jack and our son Hank. Paris and New Orleans are my homes away from home.