Research Areas

The courtyard in Stevenson College

Research in Linguistics is focused, collaborative, and theoretically ecumenical. While the traditional theoretical subdisciplines of phonology, semantics, and syntax remain dominant loci in the department, a long-standing commitment to empirically-rich investigations has led to a broadening in its research—to include other core areas of inquiry (morphology, phonetics, pragmatics, and psycholinguistics) as well as diverse methodologies for investigating language (e.g., computational and experimental methodologies)—without sacrificing theoretical rigor or a focus on whole-language investigation.

The department retains an abiding faith in whole language investigation, maintaining long-standing interests in understudied and endangered languages, including Austronesian, Hungarian, Irish, Mayan, Oto-Manguean, and Uto-Aztecan as well as more dominant language groups, such as Germanic, Iranian, Japanese, Romance, Semitic, and Slavic. In addition, many faculty and students are united by interests beyond the traditional theoretical disciplines, often sharing a methodological focus, including in psycholinguistics and real-time processing broadly construed, in computational modeling, and in sociolinguistics, including questions of power and gender dynamics, indexical features, and within-language variation.

Much of this research occurs within eleven labs and other research groups, which meet actively throughout the academic year. These research subunits are organized under the umbrella of the Linguistics Research Center (LRC), the part of the department which manages lab space and other research-related resources, as well as coordinates visiting researchers. It also supports the department's externally-funded research projects, which receive funding from agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF).