Becky Childs studies the dialects of residents of Texana, a 150-member African-American community nestled in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Although most of Texana’s residents are African American, Becky is finding that they engage in large-scale vowel rotations, or shifts in vowel pronunciation, characteristic of Appalachian Whites who more typically inhabit the Smoky Mountains. Her work illuminates the importance of considering the regional characteristics of African-American speech. Becky also has obtained grant funding to compile and preserve Texana’s oral histories.
Fort Pierce, Florida
John Carroll High School
Ph.D. in Linguistics
M.A. in English from North Carolina State University
B.A. in English from the University of Florida
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
I was awarded the graduate school excellence in graduate research award as well as a graduate school dean’s award this past year.
I am a teaching assistant in the English department. I teach English 1101 and English 1102. In addition, I am also working on a community language project in Roswell, Georgia where we are helping to document the oral history of the community.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
…hanging out in the Founder’s garden and Herty Field and jogging at the track. I also like to go to Jittery Joe’s in the Student Learning Center to get a drink of coffee and people-watch.
When I have free time, I like…
…head to the mountains of North Carolina and go hiking or camping or head to the coast to spend some time on the beach. I also spend my free time visiting with people in Texana, North Carolina (where I am doing my research) to attend high school basketball games and other community activities. A lot of the time, you can find me sitting on someone’s couch in Texana watching TV and just chit-chatting. They have become like another family to me.
My favorite place to study is…
…outside. If my work doesn’t require me to be at a computer or in my office, you can find me sitting in Founder’s Garden or on the front steps of my apartment studying. I much prefer the fresh air and pleasant distractions like birds and squirrels to sitting at a desk inside somewhere.
My favorite professor is…
I have two. Dr. Kretzschmar and Dr. Anderson have both challenged me to think about things in new ways. They have both encouraged me to look at my research differently and critically at every step of the process, and as a result I feel like my work has really developed. Dr. Anderson has helped me to hone my skills in phonetics and ethnographic work, while Dr. Kretzschmar has helped me to think “outside the box.”
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
…have a picnic with all of my friends who are scattered everywhere. It would be great to have everyone together (in one central location), so that we could just sit around and talk and catch up.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to…
… have a home in the Bahamas, so I could spend the winters and all of my other free time there. The Bahamas (especially the island of Abaco) is an ideal place for me because it offers all the activities that I like. I can snorkel, dive, and fish nearly all year because of the great weather. Unfortunately, the surf is no good.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
… attending the research awards banquet this past year. It was a real honor to receive a research award and it was very exciting to meet Dr. Grasso, the dean of the graduate school and Dr. Patel, the vice president for research.