My research interests are in linguistic anthropology, interactional sociolinguistics, and pragmatics. I study how people use their linguistic resources to negotiate social relationships, particularly at fine-grained levels of everyday interaction. I'm also interested in how speakers' sociolinguistic practices might ultimately shape linguistic form. I currently explore these topics in Datooga, a Southern Nilotic language of Tanzania, using video-based ethnographic and linguistic methods. My work also frequently engages with topics in language documentation and description.
My doctoral research investigated an elaborate system of name avoidance practiced by Datooga women. Women traditionally avoid the names of their senior in-laws as well as lexically related and similar-sounding words. To replace these words, women make use of a highly conventionalized avoidance vocabulary, which I document and describe in my dissertation. I also explore the use of avoidance language in everyday speech and show how avoidance language indexes particular interpersonal stances that construct relations of respect, gender, and seniority. I've published papers on this topic in Anthropological Linguistics and Journal of Linguistic Anthropology.
See Research for details about publications and presentations, or have a look at my CV.
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