At its core, my research addresses how speakers and listeners construct social meanings of language variation, as social meaning connects patterns of language variation with the wider social world. I have investigated social meanings primarily through perceptual experiments that measure listeners' reactions to variable forms, such as vowel shifts and intonation contours. In so doing, I seek to learn more about the mechanics of social meanings: how meanings manifest differently in production vs. perception, how a feature's meanings change as the feature expands to new geographic spaces, and how the strength of a meaning is related to how strongly the feature is represented.
These interests converge in the Royal Society of NZ Marsden funded projects I'm working on at NZILBB: Recency effects in spoken New Zealand English (with Lynn Clark) and What is the Southland accent? (with Lynn Clark, Kevin Watson, and Jen Hay).