My primary research interests are the ways in which multiply marginalized individuals navigate linguistic landscapes to construct identities beyond binaries in the face of intersecting structural oppressions.

I use diverse methods, including quantitative phonetic analyses, psycholinguistic experiments, ethnographic and discourse methods, and more. I ground my analyses not only in what statistical models reveal about the data, but in the social meanings that the communities I work with self-report, working with theories emerging from critical race theory, sociology, social psychology, and gender studies to contextualize my linguistic analyses.

Current projects

Racialized gender and nonbinary speech

What is the relationship between language, race, and gender for multiply marginalized individuals?

I incorporate analyses of oppression and resistance as I consider how Black nonbinary speakers use /s/ to construct nonbinary gender identities and how the perspective of the listener influences the perception of their speech.


Steele, Ariana. 2022. Enacting new worlds of gender: Nonbinary speakers, racialized gender, and anti-colonialism. In The Oxford Handbook of Language and Sexuality, ed. Kira Hall and Rusty Barrett. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Steele, Ariana. Is fronted /s/ truly feminine? Gendered racism and the white cisgender listening subject. In preparation.

Steele, Ariana. Progressive Black masculinities and Black nonbinary resistance: (De)constructing masculinity with /s/. In preparation for Battlefield linguistics: Contemporary contestations of language gender and sexuality, eds. Scott Burnett and Francesca Vigo. De Gruyter.


2022. Intersectionality of social meaning: Race, gender, and /s/ perception. Presented at New Ways of Analyzing Variation, San Jose, CA, USA.

2022. Can we mitigate stereotypes through speech? Sociophonetic perception of /s/ amongst Black and white nonbinary talkers. Presented at Lavender Languages & Linguistics Conference, Catania, Italy.

2019. Genderless, genderfuck, and everything in between: Racialized style and queer visibility among non-binary speakers in Columbus, Ohio, USA. Presented at Lavender Languages & Linguistics Conference, Gothenburg, Sweden.

2018. Stylistic practice and linguistic differentiation for non-binary speakers in Columbus, Ohio. Presented at the International Gender and Language Association Biannual Conference, Gaborone, Botswana.

Gender beyond the binary in sociolinguistic variation

From the standpoint of the gender non-normative speaker, J Calder and I advocate for an approach in sociolinguistics that centers community-based gender epistemologies in interpreting social meaning.


Calder, J and Ariana Steele. Accounting for the nonbinary speaking subject in sociolinguistic variationism. In preparation.


Calder, J and Ariana Steele. 2019. Gender in sociolinguistic variation beyond the binary. Paper presented at the Linguistic Society of America annual meeting. New York, NY.

Rhythm in Haitian Creole

Nandi Sims and I are measuring prosodic rhythm in Haitian Creole to develop a documentation of rhythm in the language.


Nandi Sims and Ariana Steele. Prosodic rhythm in Haitian Creole. In preparation.

Past projects

Reverse linguistic stereotyping of AAL

When we speak to a person, our perceptions of their speech are modulated by social things about them such as their race.

Using a matched guise study, I investigated how listeners' experience with and stereotypes about Black talkers influenced their perception of the diphthong /ai/.


2016. The sociophonetics of Blackness. Presented at the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Research Forum, Evanston, IL.


Steele, Ariana. 2016. Reverse linguistic stereotyping of a race-based dialect [Unpublished undergraduate thesis]. Northwestern University.