I am an Assistant Professor in the Linguistics Department at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. I primarily conduct research in the fields of syntax, pragmatics, discourse, phonetics, phonology, and language documentation. I employ both traditional methods in my approach to field linguistics and linguistic analysis as well as newly developed methods in documentary linguistics and statistical approaches to linguistic analysis. I take an integrated approach to explain linguistic structure, including historical, social, communicative, and cognitive factors.
The majority of my work focuses on Besemah, a little-described Malayic language of Sumatra. I have done more than 20 months of fieldwork in the highlands of southwest Sumatra with support from a Fulbright, Blakemore Freeman Fellowship, and Fulbright-Hays. I have also conducted research on other Austronesian languages, including Indonesian, Javanese, Ende (Central Malayo-Polynesian, Indonesia), and Kankanaey (Western Malayo-Polynesian, Philippines), as well as Shona (Bantu, Zimbabwe). I will soon begin a documentation project on the Nasal language, a recently uncovered Malayo-polynesian isolate spoken along the coast of southwest Sumatra.
I completed my dissertation, Symmetrical voice constructions in Besemah: A usage-based approach, at the University of California, Santa Barbara in June 2016. It is a study of the syntactic and discourse properties of symmetrical voice (i.e., a voice system with two or more transitive constructions, neither of which is clearly 'basic') in Besemah. The study is comprised of two main parts. The first describes grammatical relations and syntactic alignment in Besemah based on analyses of control, raising, 'quantifier float', relativization, and binding constructions. The second section is a statistical analysis of the distribution of voice constructions in conversational and narrative data based on factors such as information flow, topic continuity, and syntactic priming. (The link above contains a fuller description of my dissertation.)