Research

I am a sociolinguist: my research centers on the social aspects of language. I’m particularly interested in discourse-pragmatic markers (especially uh and um) and how their pragmatic and social meanings develop.

Um and uh

For my M.A. degree paper, I conducted a study of um and uh in instant messaging (IM) under the supervision of Derek Denis.

Recent variationist work (e.g., Wieling et al., 2016) has identified a change in progress: um is rising in frequency relative to uh, which might be related to an emerging functional difference between the two. My goal was to explore that idea using IM data, in which the use of the words seems to be more intentional: while some would argue we “automatically” produce them in speech, using them in IM requires more conscious effort and thus may provide clues as to their discourse-pragmatic function.

I’m currently working on extending the findings of my M.A. paper with an experiment: I’m using a matched-guise design to identify listeners’ social/interactional evaluations of speakers depending on whether and how they use uh, um, neither or both.

Other research interests

Apart from LVC, I’m also interested in the linguistics of Japanese: both in phonology (e.g., mora-timing) and in syntax/semantics (e.g., sluicing and island effects, relative clauses, and adjectival modifiers).