My research explores the mutual determination between social and linguistic change in indigenous languages of the Americas, especially of the Mayan and Uto-Aztecan families. I am particularly interested in dialectal variation, social deixis, new dialect formation, the genealogy of pastoral language and language contact.
My upcoming book “Language and Ethnicity among the K’ichee’ Maya” (2015) explores the social meaning of dialectal variation in K’iche’ and Q’eqchi’, two Mayan languages spoken in the highlands of Guatemala. Dialect stereotypes act as ethnic markers linguistically embodying regional ethnoscapes and indexing also stylistic changes in speech. Such pragmatic roles are undergirded by a semiotic ideology in which language maintains a relationship of iconicity with ethnic categories. Figuratively, for the Highland Maya, you are what you speak.
I am also working on the uses of variation in honorific marking in Pipil and Central Nahuatl in texts produced in the 17th and 18th century in Guatemala. Differences in honorific practice distinguished the Spaniards’ Mexican allies from the native Pipil along the Pacific coast in colonial Guatemala.
Although I have done most of my fieldwork in Kaqchikel, K’iche’, Q’eqchi’, Awakatek and Nahuatl-speaking areas of Guatemala and Mexico, I am also interested in the dialectology of Spanish in Latin America.
You can check my publications here.