How do different intersecting identities, communities, and environments influence perception and processing of various American Englishes?
Psycholinguistic Correlates of Raciolinguistic Expectation
In my dissertation, use theories and methodologies from sociolinguistics, neurolinguistics, and psycholinguistics to investigate how American English-speaking listeners cognitively interact with voices from Black and White individuals. I investigate how different parts of grammar modulate variation in perception from a sociolinguistic frame of reference. The data come from over 90 sociolinguistic interviews, four online surveys, a virtual eye-tracking study, and two EEG neurolinguistic experiments. Taken together, the dissertation shows support and a need for a theory of processing that accounts for multifaceted individuals with intersecting identities, all of which influence language practices. My future research will build upon these findings to investigate broader claims about languages as they exist and vary in context, from person to person, further contributing to a multidialectal cognitive model of language.
Emotional Prosody and Race Perception
I also investigate emotional prosody contour differences between African American English and Standardized American English, and whether people attune to these differences, or if the mechanism of racialization is based on some other cue.
Intonation and Identity in The Good Place
Dr. Emily A. Gasser and I use both quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze how the character of Jason Mendoza in NBC’s The Good Place uses particular intonational features to build character, and how the use of those features changes to reflect the evolution of the character across four seasons of the show.
Corresponding Linguist on Interdisiplinary Projects
Toxicity Detection and African American Language Bias Project
I am the corresponding linguist on this project being conducted by researched in the University of Michigan School of Information (Aparna Ananthasubramaniam, Daniel Romero, David Jurgens, and Emilio Ferrara) looking at perceptions of toxicity and abuse in tweets that use African American Language versus tweets that don't use the language variety.
Sensory Integration Processing of Language and Skin Tone
I am the corresponding linguist on this project with psychologists at the University of Hawaii (Leah Morse, Shahana Ansari, Christine Tai, and Kristin Pauker) investigating perceptions of skin tone depending on audio coming from Hawaiian Creole English, African American English, and Standardized American English.
My master's thesis looked at Black conservative politician and media personality Omarosa Manigault’s use of two phonetic variables, which help her construct a persona that draws on both racialized and gendered indexes. Specific segmental and suprasegmental employed by Omarosa each encompass an indexical field of varied meanings that, when used together in discourse, make up Omarosa’s media personae. Known predominantly as, “The Woman America Loves to Hate,” Omarosa reifies mainstream white America’s perceptions of the Angry Black Woman, while attempting to portray herself as upwardly-mobile and middle-class. This sheds light on how features can index multiple social meanings in tandem.
Background Image from: Keynote at TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo, Portland, Oregon, March 2023