It is no secret that the Indiana University Department of Linguistics is home to renowned and respected faculty who are actively engaged in critical research in many distinct areas. This fall, we have the pleasure of welcoming two new faculty members into the department, both of whom are laying the foundation for the growth of the sociolinguistics program at IU: Dr. Monica Nesbitt, Associate Professor of Linguistics, and Dr. Jeffrey Lamontagne, Assistant Professor of French and Italian and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Linguistics.
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Nesbitt and Dr. Lamontagne about their journeys to IU, their current research, and their combined vision for the future of sociolinguistics at Indiana University. Both professors report being keenly aware of and fascinated by the language variation in their surroundings at an early age, and this curiosity eventually led them to pursue careers in sociolinguistics. Some of Dr. Lamontagne’s current research interests include phonological variation and change and issues of covert prestige in Laurentian French. Dr. Nesbitt is currently working on building a corpus of Black English in Boston, among many other projects. Commenting on what drew her to the Linguistics Department at Indiana University, Dr. Nesbitt referenced the accomplished faculty, cutting edge resources, and the many language departments housed on campus. Both professors expressed their belief that what sets IU apart are the relationships and “synergy” between students and faculty in Linguistics and related departments, such as Modern Languages, Psychology, Speech and Language Pathology, Second Language Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, and Computer Science.
She shared her excitement about potential future opportunities to collaborate not only with these departments but also with various centers campus, such as the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society.
Going forward, forging relationships and sharing data across disciplines is essential. In the current era of Zoom and online learning, Dr. Nesbitt is also exploring the impact of online sociolinguistic data collection and ways to leverage social media to recruit speakers. Both professors are encouraged by the growing number of students interested in sociolinguistics.
Speaking on the role sociolinguistics plays within the department and the discipline as a whole, Dr. Nesbitt underscored the value that it brings as a methodological approach that can be applied to practically any area of linguistics. As they look towards the future, both Dr. Nesbitt and Dr. Lamontagne are hoping to collaborate with students, faculty, and community members in innovative ways to foster the growth of sociolinguistics at IU for years to come.