I study how grammatical structures are used by speakers today and how these grammatical structures may have developed over time. In these ways, I aim to inform how we understand the capacity, diversity, and beauty of language.
I use tools from language documentation and linguistics to create corpora of oral stories. These corpora are then used to demonstrate the natural grammatical patterns used within the community. Using a collaborative process, I marshal these oral stories from recording through to transcription and translation.
My research interests include African languages, morphosyntax, language description and documentation, diachronic morphosyntax, and discourse grammar. I am particularly interested in the morphosyntax of the Kainji languages of Nigeria and how they can inform our understanding of the Niger‑Congo language family more broadly.
Synchronic description of two progressive constructions, proposal of historical sources of the distinct morphological pieces, and a comparison of the U̱t‑Maꞌin Progressive Constructions with cognate elements from four Kainji language clusters.
A discourse based study of the distribution of verb forms in narrative texts with focus on the “unmarked” Bare Verb form that is used to progress the storyline — sequential main events in a narrative text.
In Progress, Posters, Publications & Primary source manuscripts
An essential resource for anyone doing research in Kainji langauge speaking areas.
A project collecting Narratives and wordlists from the various lects of the u̱t‑Maꞌin language.
Exploring grammatical patterns used for quotations in narrative texts.
Exploring the morphosyntax of verbal and nonverbal predication, negation, and the extensive use of nominalization.
A parallel corpus of Pear Film retellings from 9 speakers, across 3 u̱t‑Maꞌin varieties.
This project focused on answering the question: “What is the distribution of verb forms in narrative discourse?”
Implementation of Cornerstone OnDemand for SIL Americas Area
Collaboration with Timbwaoga Aime Judicaël Ouermi, Sara Pacchiarotti, and Amos Teo, while enrolled in a 9 month field methods course.
Working alongside local speakers of Pipero to develop a writing system and language materials.
Awards, Fellowships & Grants
Service, Professional memberships, and Community Development
Professional involvements with minority language community members.
Leadership in formal education settings
Serving communities while training in linguistic skills
June 15 – August 14, 2020 Grammar Writing Workshop Trinity Western University, British Columbia Canada
Focus: Over nine weeks, I directly mentored three participants as they each wrote on different grammar issues for different African languages.
October 21-29, 2011 Lifelong Learning for Leaders SIL Americas Area, Panama City, Panama
Focus: This workshop provided interpersonal and leadership skills for leaders across the Americas. I presented the Cornerstone OnDemand platform and how to use the platform to support individualized professional development plans.
As part of my position with the SIL Americas Area I worked to provide skills in lingusitic tools to mother tongue language users. I was invited to co-lead the workshop on Fieldworks Software held at the University of Malaysia, Sabah.
October 17-19, 2011 Fieldworks Language Explorer as a dictionary development tool University of Malaysia, Sabah, Malaysia
Focus: Over three days I provided 15 hours instruction on different aspects of Fieldworks useful in the production of community created dictionaries.
As part of my position with the Seed Company from 9/2004 – 12/2007, I was engaged as a Linguistics Consultant Intern under Katherine Barnwell, Ph.D. I worked and lived in Nigeria. During this three year internship I took part in or facilitated various workshops. Most workshops focused on providing minority language speakers linguistic and language use skills, for conducting language development activities in their own mother tongues.
January 15 - February 2, 2007 8th Luke Partnership workshop in Gombe State ECWA Theological College, Kufai, Biliri, Gombe State
September 18 – October 6, 2006 7th Luke Partnership workshop in Gombe State ECWA Theological College, Kufai, Biliri, Gombe State, Nigeria
Focus: Translation and community checking of translated materials: visit to Gwandum
May 15 - June 2, 2006 6th Luke Partnership workshop in Gombe State ECWA Theological College, Kufai, Biliri, Gombe State, Nigeria
January 16 - February 3, 2006 5th Luke Partnership workshop in Gombe State ECWA Theological College, Kufai, Gombe State, Nigeria
Focus: Draft for circulation: Reading and Writing
September 19 - October 8, 2005 4th Luke Partnership workshop in Gombe State Science Secondary School, Kaltungo, Gombe State, Nigeria
January 10-29, 2005 2nd Luke Partnership workshop in Gombe State ECWA Good News Church GRA, Gombe, Nigeria
Focus: Draft for circulation in preliminary orthography: The Good Samaritan (Pipero)
January 3-7, 2005 Facilitator, Visual Arts, Scripture in Use Workshop NBTT, Jos, Nigeria
Cross Cultural Experience
Paris, France | 24 months in Paris, France at CNRS
Resident in France while a postdoctoral researcher at CNRS-LLACAN. I worked with 20 other people doing research on reported speech in West African languages.
u̱t‑Maꞌin speaking people | 12 months in Niger State, Nigeria
Data elicitation, collecting oral literature, transcription and translation of texts, grammar analysis. Development of adult reading primer for use by bilingual speakers literate in Hausa. Language data formed the basis for my master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation. Most recent visits in 2017 funded by the Firebird Foundation for Anthropological Research and the Center for the Study of Women in Society, University of Oregon. Close collaboration with local speakers and other linguists working on Kainji languages.
Pipero speaking people | 6 months in Gombe State, Nigeria
Orthography checking and testing. Translation adviser to team of native speaker translators. Development of adult reading primer for use by bi/trilingual speakers literate in Hausa and/or English. Supervisor, Katherine Barnwell, Ph.D.
Meꞌphaa speaking people | 5 Months in Guerrero State, Mexico
Logistics support role for language documentation project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (USA) Project: Documenting the Meꞌphaa genus. (PI: Steven A. Marlett, Ph.D.)
Chiang Mai, Thailand | 10 Months in Northern Thailand
Learning a language is almost as easy as forgetting a language. All skills ebb and flow with fluency in various seasons of life.