I'm a sociolinguist. Given that most people don't even know what a plain linguist is, sociolinguist might require some explaining. Linguists are kind of language scientists. Although our major job is not necessarily to learn languages, we often end up doing that, or at least learning about them. We most certainly do not tell people how to speak; we're more interested in why language sounds or looks the way it does, why we don't all speak the same language, and why people actually think some language is better than others (from a linguist's perspective, all languages are good). So as a sociolinguist I'm interested in finding out how all things social motivate people make the linguistic choices they do: what words they use, how they pronounce them, and even what language they use. Or, put another way, how people use language (including grammar and accent) to do social stuff.
So I'm interested in understanding the relationship between the language produced by humans and our social identities. By social identities, I mean our relationships with other people, whether those are the people we are speaking to in a particular interaction, or our relationships to all the other people in our society, and every relationship in between, including relationships with ourselves. I've been particularly interested in gender identity and language, specifically men's identities and language, which was the subject of my dissertation. In this vein, I have also been investigating how dominant or hegemonic (young white male middle class heterosexual) identities are linguistically performed, and how these performances (re)create structure and power in society. When I was in Sydney in 1996-1999, I also became interested in the role of ethnic identity and migration in the actuation and spread of linguistic change in Australian English. Currently, I am beginning a project to describe and explain variation and change in what is locally called 'Pittsburghese' with Barbara Johnstone. There are lots of papers avaiable at academia.edu.
If you worry about credentials, I'm an associate professor in the Linguistics Department at the University of Pittsburgh. I received my PhD from Georgetown University, and my BA in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania.
The "F" in my name stands for Fabius, my family on my maternal grandfather's side. It's a Big Dutch Family. Look us up in the Nederlands Patriciaat. I don't think we're related to the Roman dictator who chased Hannibal around Italy about 2300 years ago, but who knows, it was a long time ago.
Credit for the photo in the banner goes to Lauren Collister. I've distorted it with my computer significantly -- the original is in focus, for one thing.