Virginia Tech™home

Abby Walker

Abby Walker, Associate Professor

Abby Walker, Associate Professor
Abby Walker, Associate Professor

Department of English
409 Shanks Hall 
180 Turner Street, NW 
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-5138 | ajwalker@vt.edu
Website: abbyjwalker.com

Abby Walker is an associate professor of linguistics in the English Department at Virginia Tech, and co-director of The Speech Lab at Virginia Tech.

Her work investigates the ways in which individuals change their speech in the moment (depending on who they are talking to or what they are talking about) and over time (because of changes in their community, or because they change communities); the mechanisms behind cross-dialectal speech perception; and the social evaluation of language. Her work pulls from sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics and phonetics, and although her work primarily looks at different dialects of English, she has active collaborative projects on Korean and Spanish. 

  • Sociolinguistics
  • Phonetics
  • Language cognition
  • Cross-dialectal communication
  • Language and social meaning
  • PhD in Linguistics, The Ohio State University, 2014
  • MA in Linguistics, University of Canterbury 2008
  • BA (Hons) in Linguistics (Minor in Classics), University of Canterbury 2006
  • Co-Director, The Speech Lab at Virginia Tech
  • Faculty Co-Advisor, The Undergraduate Linguistics Club at Virginia Tech
  • Certificate of Teaching Excellence, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Virginia Tech, 2019. 
  • National Science Foundation (BCS 1530780); Co-PI with Katie Carmichael ($31,367 toward costs of hosting international conference, 2015–2017 on Sociolinguistic Variation and Language Processing (SVALP))
  • Niles Research Grant, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Virginia Tech; ($4,000 for experimental costs), 2014–2015
  • Undergraduate Teaching Award; Department of Linguistics, The Ohio State University, 2013

Journal Articles

  • Walker, Abby & Kathryn Campbell-Kibler (2015). Repeat what after whom? Exploring variable selectivity in a cross-dialectal shadowing task. Frontiers in Psychology, 6 (546). 
  • Hay, Jennifer, Janet Pierrehumbert, Abby Walker & Patrick LaShell (2015). Tracking word frequency effects through 130 years of sound change. Cognition, 139: 83-91.
  • Walker, Abby (2014). The role of syntax in rating voices and voices in rating syntax in New Zealand English. To appear in New Zealand English Journal. 
  • Walker, Abby & Jennifer Hay (2011). Congruence between ‘word age’ and ‘voice age’ facilitates lexical access. Laboratory Phonology 1(2): 219–237

Book Chapters

  • Walker, Abby, Katie Drager & Jennifer Hay (forthcoming). The use of priming in language attitudes research. Chapter to appear in L. Zipp & R. Kircher (eds.), Research Methods in Language Attitudes. Cambridge University Press.
  • 2017. ISCE Scholars Grant, Institute for Society, Culture and Arts (ISCE), Virginia Tech. $30,000 towards study on the neuropsychology of cross-dialectal communication (with Mike Bowers)
  • 2015–2017. National Science Foundation. $31,367 towards costs of hosting Sociolinguistic Variation and Language Processing (BCS 1530780, PI with Katie Carmichael)
  • ENGL 1504: Introduction to Linguistics
  • ENGL 1514: Language and Society
  • ENGL 2034: Analyzing the Sounds of Language
  • ENGL/WGS 3134: Gender and Linguistics
  • ENGL/PSYC 2034: Language and the Mind
  • ENGL 4074: English Syntax

Walker’s lab group consists of undergraduate research assistants who meet regularly to help her collect and process data, learn more about conducting research, and sometimes collaborate with her on team projects. Students have presented this work at local and national conferences. Undergraduates interested in joining the lab should contact Walker about openings.

Select Products from Lab Collaborations
(* Indicates VT Undergraduate Author)

  • Carroll, Lily*, Jessie Yu*, Nicole DeFoor*, Emma Saunders*, Hayley Wood* & Abby Walker (2020). Exploring sensitivity to pre-voicing in Southern US English listeners. Paper presented at the Dennis Dean Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship Conference, April 24.
  • Walters, Emily*, Abby Walker & Jen Hay (2017). Gendered words in New Zealand English. Paper presented at Georgetown University Round Table (GURT), Georgetown, DC, March 10–12.
  • Southall, Amy*, Rachel Hargrave* & Abby Walker (2017). /z/-devoicing in Southern American English. Paper presented at the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics (SECOL), Charleston, SC, March 8–11.
  • Walker, Abby, Andrew Burlile* & Katherine Askew* (2016). Listener and dialect effects in the false memory paradigm. Paper presented at Sociolinguistic Variation and Language Processing (SVALP), Blacksburg, VA, March 31–April 2.

Walker also advises students pursuing their own independent research project. In most cases these projects grow from a class project that the student wants to pursue further. These students have also presented their work at local and national conferences.

Select Products from Independent Research
(* Indicates VT Undergraduate Author)

  • Cho, Esther*, Abby Walker, Mihyun Jung & Jeff Holliday (2019). A problem for the frequency code? A perceptual study of the relationship between pitch and politeness in Korean. Paper presented at the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics (SECOL), Boca Raton, May 30–June 2.
  • Conner, Katherine* & Abby Walker (2017). He said, she said: Exploring the role of gender and gendered attitudes in true and false memories. Poster presented at New Ways of Analyzing Variation (NWAV), Madison, WI, November 2–5.
  • DeFoor, Nicole* (2019). Synthetic speech and its effects on human trust. Paper presented at VALing in Williamsburg, VA, April 13.
  • Kolcum, Megan* (2018). Exploring turn-taking and discourse markers through generations. Paper presented at the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics (SECOL), Blacksburg, VA, April 12-14, 2018.
  • Myers, Casey* (2016). Exploring social meanings of morphosyntactic variation using the matched guise paradigm. Poster presented at Sociolinguistic Variation and Language Processing (SVALP), Blacksburg, VA, March 31–April 2.
  • Marques, Leigh* (2016). Listener differences in non-traditional anaphora resolution.Independent research. Poster presented at Sociolinguistic Variation and Language Processing (SVALP), Blacksburg, VA, March 31–April 2.

Walker has active collaborations with researchers at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and at Korea University in South Korea.

Select Media Mentions