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Research

The unique strength of the Linguistics department is the systematic pairing of theoretical and experimental investigations of linguistic knowledge. As such, both our teaching and research focus on language as a cognitive system. We study the underlying rule system inherent in complex phonological, morphological, and grammatical structures of language. We also explore what it means to know a language both as an innate system in the human mind and the maturation of that system within the mind of the individual speaker, exploring similarities and differences in how children and adults acquire linguistic knowledge. The formal study of phonology, morphology, and syntax, for example, provides insight into the structure of language. Phonetic, psycholinguistic, and neurolinguistic research in turn explores how underlying structures influence the actual production and comprehension of language. Our experimental orientation distinguishes us from linguistics departments with a sole emphasis on theoretical linguistics. Moreover, our currriculum emphasizes linguistic diversity as a reflection of human diversity: We teach a variety of “The Structure of ____” courses (recent examples include Arabic, Chinese, Kaqchikel, Kiche, and Quechua). We also offer a Field Methods course, always centered around a native speaker of a language unfamiliar to the students (recent examples include Kaqchikel, Marathi, Quechua, Vietnamese).


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