School of Interdisciplinary Studies Linguistics

Research

Below are current faculty research interests.

Myrdene Anderson 

Longitudinal ethnography on several projects: Contemporary Saami media and multilingualism; Post-Chernobyl organization of priorities in Lapland; Saami demography; Saami reindeer-herding dog's transformation to show dog outside of Lapland; U.S. community gardens; U.S. organic gardening litigation; high-school reunions; artificial life movement; AND Collaborative research concerning the intersections of auto/biography and auto/ethnography; projects that combine semantics, semiotics and philosophy of science.

Elena Benedicto 

Prof. Benedicto specializes in the syntax-semantics interface and directs the Indigenous and Endangered Languages Lab (IELLab).  Her main theoretical interests center around the feature specification of functional projections in the clausal structure.  She has worked on classifiers in Mayangna and sign languages (ASL, LSA, LSC, HKSL) and is currently working on the V-V syntactic complex, modality and evidentiality in Mayangna.

Prof. Benedicto's current projects (as of Fall 2011) focus on multilingual child language acquisition and creating a grammar, monolingual dictionary and ethnobiology record for Mayanga. She also writes and collaborates in developing Participatory Action Research, which seeks to create more equitable methods of working with local communities when conducting field research.

Margie Berns 

With world Englishes and second language teaching as areas of specialization, Margie Berns' research focus is the sociolinguistics of English in a variety of settings, especially, South America, China, and Europe. This work aims to create awareness of the distinctiveness of Englishes worldwide and promote acceptance of the non-canonical forms and functions of newer varieties. With its relevance to everyone anywhere who learns and uses English, the research findings have implications for language planning, literary studies, creative writing, language teaching, and linguistic analysis.

Alejandro Cuza 

His research centers on the psycholinguistic nature and dynamics of second language acquisition, heritage speaker bilingualism and child bilingual development. In particular, he examines the effects of linguistic and psycholinguistic factors in the acquisition of Spanish morphosyntax and semantics in heritage speakers, bilingual children, and second language learners, analyzing how bilingual children and adults develop knowledge of Spanish morphosyntactic patterns, including tense and aspect distinctions, interrogative subject-verb inversion, differential object marking, gender concord, determiners, object clitics, and double complementizer questions. He also studies the effects of heritage language literacy development in the acquisition of both Spanish and English in school-aged children. He founded and directed Aprendiendo a Leer, the first large-scale literacy program in the state of Indiana  with over 70 Spanish-English bilingual children every year. This program integrates a service learning component, where Purdue students teach bilingual children in PreK to 5th grade how to read and write in Spanish.

Lori Czerwionka

Lori Czerwionka is an Assistant Professor of Spanish and Linguistics. Her research interests lie broadly in pragmatics, sociolinguistics, and second language acquisition. She use quantitative and qualitative approaches to linguistic analysis. Her work focuses on the use and structure of mitigation and speech acts in Spanish-speaking communities. Recent projects also address linguistic and communication outcomes of short-term study abroad for English-speaking learners of Spanish and the development of a second language corpus. . Previously, she has worked on discourse organization and the use of discourse markers in linguistic mitigation and second language learners’ development of discourse.

Olga Dmitrieva 

Olga does research in acoustic phonetics and speech perception. She is interested in particular in speech perception and production patterns of individuals who speak more than one language, whether as bilinguals or second language learners. She also examines interactions between phonetics and phonology and the way they can affect each other in shaping languages. Languages she has worked on so far include Russian, English, Spanish, Italian, French, and Marathi, as well as others that her students have studied.

Alex Francis 

He researches speech perception, acoustic phonetics and cognitive hearing science, with a particular interest in the role of cognitive mechanisms in understanding speech under challenging conditions. His recent work has focused on cross-language, second language and accented speech perception, and speech perception by older listeners with and without hearing impairment. He also studied the production, perception and learning of Cantonese lexical tones, and factors contributing to the intelligibility of synthetic speech. Another component of his research investigates how the processing of acoustic cues is affected by age-related changes in hearing, alone and in combination with age-related changes to cognitive mechanisms, such as working memory and selective attention.

Elaine J. Francis

Elaine J. Francis directs the Experimental Linguistics Lab. Her current research examines the syntactic, semantic, discourse-pragmatic, and cognitive factors that underlie the grammar and usage of complex sentence structures. Her most recent publications have focused on relative clause extraposition in English and resumptive pronouns in Cantonese. She is a General Editor of the journal Language and Cognition, and co-editor, with Laura A. Michaelis, of the edited volume Mismatch: Form-Function Incongruity and the Architecture of Grammar (CSLI Publications, 2003). Her current book-in-progress, Marginal Acceptability and Linguistic Theory, investigates how linguists can better understand the nature of language users’ implicit grammatical knowledge despite the very indirect relationship between mental representations and observable linguistic behavior.

Atsushi Fukada 

My research interests include Japanese linguistics in general, pragmatics, and computational linguistics. The study of pragmatics is important because it attempts to explicate how people use language to get all sorts of things accomplished in life. These may include establishing, maintaining, and terminating relationships, as well as all sorts of complex tasks involving verbal communication (say, making a case for a position in a debate).

April Ginther 

Broadly, my research interests focus on the relationships between language testing, assessment, and formal contexts for second language acquisition. I am the director of the Oral English Proficiency Program at Purdue University and within the program are many opportunities for students interested in research on testing, assessment, and instruction. Current projects include an examination of temporal measures of fluency, examinee self-assessment of proficiency, and instructors' assessments of examinee proficiency as related to oral English proficiency test scores. We are beginning a project that will examine the relationship between scores on the TOEFL iBT and Purdue's Oral English Proficiency Test that will consider the relationship between different departmental cut scores and long range measures of academic success.

Laurence B. Leonard 

Leonard studies language acquisition in typically developing children and in children with language impairments. Much of his work focuses on children with "specific language impairment." These are children with significant deficits in language ability without any obvious accompanying sensory or developmental problems. These children constitute a paradox: if (as we often read) all "normal" children acquire language without difficulty, how can we explain specific language impairment, given that the only thing that is not "normal" in these children is their difficulty with language acquisition? Much of Leonard's research is cross-linguistic in nature; together with colleagues in other countries, Leonard has studied specific language impairment as it is manifested in English, Italian, Hebrew, Swedish, Spanish, Cantonese, and, more recently, Hungarian.

Mary Niepokuj 

My research interests focus on the relationship among language change, reconstruction, and linguistic theory. Although much of my work has focused on historical phonology and morphology, I am interested in semantic change and semantic reconstruction as well. In phonology, I focus on the extent to which linguistic theory explains attested patterns of linguistic change. Most of my work focuses on the Indo-European language family.

Daniel Olson 

Daniel Olson is an Assistant Professor of Spanish and Linguistics. His research focus is experimental phonetics and phonology, particularly in bilingual populations. His previous work has examined the phonetic patterns associated with language switching in Spanish-English bilinguals, with a focus on suprasegmental production and perception. Most recently, adding to a growing field of research surrounding the nature of bilingual language storage, his work has investigated the cognitive mechanisms that bilinguals use to separate their two languages, at both the lexical and phonetic level.  As a complimentary area of research, Professor Olson is also working on a project that examines the utility of speech analysis software as a means to further second learner acquisition of more native-like productions.

Felicia Roberts 

Dr. Roberts studies language practices that construct everyday and institutional life. Her current research focuses on silence in conversation, with particular emphasis on the interaction of silence following particular speech acts (requests, invitations, assessments, etc.) and the intonation of responses. She is studying this across languages and will be investigating it across the lifespan as well. Ongoing interests in institutional discourse (especially service encounters such as medical and counseling interactions), human-animal interaction, language attitudes, perception of non-standard speakers, language variation and change.

Amanda Seidl 

To learn a language is to learn which sounds and which syntactic structures are relevant for communication, and to learn to map between the sound and syntactic systems. Broadly speaking, the aim of my research program is to investigate how infants acquire both the phonological and syntactic structures of their input language. To do this, I study infants' phonological learning in controlled situations using a variety of infant-friendly methods (Headturn Preference, Preferential Looking and Visual Habituation). I use these procedures to investigate two separate yet convergent issues in phonological acquisition --infants' use of prosodic cues to segment grammatical units from continuous speech, and the acquisition of segmental phonology and the distinction between learned and innate phonotactics and phonological classes.

Tony Silva 

With increased globalization, being multilingual is more important than ever. And with the exponential growth in the number of people using the internet, much, if not most, international communication is done in writing. This situation drives the growing interest in and need for research and scholarship on second language writing. My particular interests in this area include basic and comparative empirical research on second language writing and second language writers. My basic research involves investigating the linguistic, rhetorical, and strategic dimensions of second language writing. My comparative research looks at similarities and differences in the writing of native and non-native writers of a language and in individual writers' first and second language writing. The aims of all of my research are to understand the phenomenon of second language writing, to develop a data-based theory of second language writing, and to use such a theory to design and develop principled second language writing instructional programs. 

Jeffrey Siskind 

Professor Siskind’s work across multiple disciplines has allowed him to translate significant knowledge from research on human perception, processing, and learning into methods applied to computational vision and neurobiology. He has pioneered work in recognizing action in videos by analyzing state changes in force-dynamic relations. He has also constructed computational models of child language acquisition that synthesize linguistics and psychological data. He is interested in mathematical models of language acquisition, and in grounding the study of human language in visual perception through fMRI. He is developing methods to quantify the compositional nature of human semantic processing in both vision and language, as well as gathering and analyzing corpora of infant-directed speech.

Jessica Sturm 

My research focuses on  classroom language acquisition of French as an L2.  In particular I am interested in the acquisition of L2 pronunciation, orthography, and technology in the L2 classroom. I am also interested in psycholinguistics and situate my work in the hypothesis that increased attention, awareness, and noticing improve acquisition and learning.

John Sundquist 

My main area of research is historical Germanic linguistics with an emphasis on syntactic change. In particular, I am interested in identifying patterns of variation that Germanic languages have shown in earlier stages, examining internal and external causes for change in the areas of syntax and morphology. Although my research focuses mainly on the Scandinavian languages, I attempt to draw parallels with historical developments in other Indo-European languages.

A secondary area of my research deals with the relationship between language acquisition and language change. I am mainly interested in variable use of morphology and word order in first and second language acquisition. A long-term research project of mine examines whether language change is more attributable to language acquisition among children or to language usage among adults.

Mariko Moroishi Wei 

Professor Mariko Moroishi Wei is an Associate Professor of Japanese and Linguistics. Her main area of research is second language acquisition with an emphasis on vocabulary and reading.  Her most recent research interest concerns the development of lexical skills in bilingual children with autism spectrum disorder.

Ronnie B. Wilbur 

I investigate the structure of sign language (syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and prosody) and what that tells us about the nature of language, mind/cognition, and brain.  I also consider the educational and linguistic factors that inhibit full development of English literacy by deaf children and apply the research on sign languages to improving Deaf Education.

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