May Helena Plumb

Linguistics Researcher & PhD Candidate, University of Texas at Austin

What I do


I am a linguist and PhD candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. My current research investigates the expression of temporal-modal semantics in the Zapotec languages of Oaxaca, Mexico, with a particular focus on Tlacochahuaya Zapotec. My broader interests extend to digital humanities and the preservation of language data. I am committed to ethical, community-engaged research that extends beyond the academy.

In addition to linguistics, I enjoy dancing, baking, and needlecrafts (particularly embroidery and knitting). I also tweet a lot and read fantasy novels.

Contact me


305 E. 23rd St. STOP B5100
RLP 4.304 Dept of Linguistics
Austin, TX 78712
Office: RLP 4.700E12 (map)
Email: mayhplumb@utexas.edu
Twitter: @mayhplumb
San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya

a Zapotec town in the Tlacolula Valley: the view from Cerro Negro

Examining Colonial Zapotec documents

at the Archivo General del Poder Ejecutivo del Estado de Oaxaca (photo by Brook Danielle Lillehaugen)

Linguistics Field School REU

scholars, educators, and students at the Mitla archeological site, June 2016

Land acknowledgment

Many nations have stewarded this land across generations; we should take time to honor their cultures, their histories, and their present experiences. I would like to acknowledge that live on Indigenous land. I would like to pay my respects to the Carrizo & Comecrudo, Coahuiltecan, Caddo, Tonkawa, Comanche, Lipan Apache, Alabama-Coushatta, Kickapoo, Tigua Pueblo, and all the American Indian and Indigenous Peoples and communities who have been or have become a part of these lands and territories in Texas, here on Turtle Island. I would further like to pay my respects to the Abenaki people, on whose lands I grew up.

Linguists have frequently worked to serve colonialist goals, extracting knowledge and profit from Indigenous cultures. I seek to repair this harm by repatriating knowledge and practicing community-engaged scholarship.

Statement on equity

The study of linguistics has historically been used to alternately maintain and deconstruct inequity. I am committed to building an academic community that is free of bias, discrimination, and harassment — a community where all voices are heard and all people may thrive. I aim to engage in a continuous, iterative process of reflection, evaluation, and action, and to do the work of undoing injustice in academia and society in general.

In particular, I affirm that Black lives matter, and I am committed to my role in dismantling white supremacy.