Research

Fieldwork

My work focuses on language documentation, which strives for holistic description, including morphosyntactic, lexicographic, phonological, and sociolinguistic aspects. I have undertaken many weeks of documentation for each of the following languages:

  • Itaral / Plngawan Atayal, and Touda Sediq (Austronesian, Taiwan)
  • Kapampangan, Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a (Austronesian, Philippines)
  • Hul’q’umi’num’ / Halkomelem (Salish, British Columbia)
  • Mlabri (Austroasiatic, Thailand)

Thus, I specialize in the areas of East/Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Northwest of America. Besides English, I also use Chinese and Thai as contact languages during my fieldwork.

Areas of expertise

In addition to my documentation work, my area of expertise lies in the typology of syntax, in particular the distribution, origins, and syntactic correlates of verb initiality on a global scale. Furthermore, I take interest in and have experience with in the following topics:

  • Syntax & pragmatics of clause linkage
  • Language & space
  • Syntax-phonology interface (Welsh mutation, Hokkien tone sandhi)
  • Historical linguistics
  • Syllables & rhythm (poetic meter, song)
  • Multilingualism & language contact

During my extended stays in indigenous communities I also document traditional knowledge related to the following areas:

  • Music
  • Ethnobotany
  • Weaving
  • Traditional territories & population movements

Language activism

I am passionate about language maintenance and activism, and I am directly involved in the teaching of the minority languages that I document.

Current projects

I am currently working on an experimental study to investigate the phenomenon of suprasegmental contrast in Philippine languages. While most authors describe these languages to have contrastive stress, I argue that the phonemic feature is instead vowel length.

I am also working with Michael Krauss and Gary Holton on an Eyak grammar. The Eyak language of South-central Alaska (Na-Dene family) lost its last native speaker in 2008, but fortunately Michael Krauss collected plentiful data in the decades prior to that. My contribution to this project is that of an editor.