Akshay Aitha

Much of my research over the past few years has involved some sort of field methodology. I participated in Claire Bowern’s summer grammar bootcamp REU in the summer of 2017, where I worked with recorded Noongar data to come up with an analysis of the stress system of the language. I also attended UMD’s Guatemala field school in the summer of 2018, where I conducted two weeks of intense fieldwork with speakers of Kaqchikel Maya, focusing in on nominal syntax and its interaction with frame negation in the language. My first qualifying paper here at the University of Chicago involved many hours of consultation with my parents, extended family members, and friends to understand the behavior of non-finite complements and control in Telugu, my heritage language. Last year, as an extension of work done in the graduate-level Field Methods class at UChicago, me and my colleague Naomi Kurtz began a project (which is still ongoing) involving the analysis of the very complex agreement patterns found in P’urhépecha clitics. Most recently, my second qualifying paper project on the relationship of heritage language to racial identity formation strategies in the second-generation Telugu-American community in the SF Bay Area has involved both an online survey and detailed ethnographic interviews with community members. I hope to continue this data-driven, theoretically-informed, community-grounded research in my dissertation project, which will also involve Telugu users in some capacity.