I have taught at W&M since 1993. I’m originally from California, and my graduate and undergraduate work was at UCLA. My training is in linguistics and all my teaching is for the Linguistics Program, but my position at the College is in the Department of English.
My research focuses on language preservation. Part of that work involves fieldwork and basic documentation (dictionaries, grammars, collections of stories). A second part involves language maintenance (literacy workshops, teacher training, language textbooks). A third part involves training others to be linguists.
So far I’ve concentrated on the Native languages of the American South, especially Creek (or Muskogee), Miccosukee (Mikasuki), and Coushatta (Koasati). Most of my fieldwork has been in eastern Oklahoma, south Florida, and western Louisiana. Much of my work is collaborative: on Creek, I work with Margaret Mauldin, a Creek instructor at the University of Oklahoma; on Miccosukee, I've worked most with Carol Cypress and Virginia Tommie at the Seminole Tribe’s Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, and with Jeannette Cypress and Mary Jene Koenes at Ahfachkee School. In Louisiana, I've been working closely with Linda and Bertney Langley and the Coushatta Heritage Center. In recent years I have been working with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma on a new dictionary of Choctaw.
I tend to study whatever is unusual about a language. That leads me to study everything from phonetics, to syntax and dialectology. Studying these specific areas helps me understand language in general and how languages change.