Linguistics

Faculty

Kara Becker

Assistant Professor of Linguistics (on leave Spring 2017)
Email | Website | Vollum 125
B.A. 2003, M.A. 2003, Stanford University. Ph.D. 2010 New York University. Reed College 2010 - .

Kara BeckerTeaching: Kara teaches about any and all social aspects of language, normally considered a subfield of linguistics called sociolinguistics. Sociolinguists take what we know about language from formal linguistics (how sounds, sentences, etc. are modeled in the brain and function for speakers of a language) and describe how it gets used by people in the real world. Topics ranging from the relationship between language and any social attribute (language and social class, language and gender, language and age, etc.), to regional differences in language, to language change, to marginalized languages (like African American English, or pidgin and creole languages), are all in the purview of sociolinguistics.

Research: Kara's research has focused on dialects of American English, whether regional or social. In particular, she has investigated the regional dialect of New York City, New York City English (NYCE), and how it has changed over time. She has worked on other American English dialects as well as social dialects of American English, in particular African American English (AAE). Her interests range from quantitative descriptions of dialects and their sociophonetic properties to the social meanings of dialect features, and how these features are used by individual speakers in social practice to agentically create aspects of identity.

Sameer ud Dowla Khan

Associate Professor of Linguistics - Chair
Email | Website | Eliot 101C
B.A. 2003, M.A. 2006, Ph.D. 2008 University of California, Los Angeles. Reed College 2012 - .

Sameer Khan

Teaching: Sameer teaches courses dealing with the production, perception, and underlying patterns of speech sounds in the world's languages. Every year, he teaches phonetics, phonology, and half of the introductory course on formal linguistics. He also teaches more specialized courses on intonation, laboratory phonology, phonological knowledge, linguistic field methods, and South Asian languages.

Research: Sameer's research interests span the phonetics and phonology of understudied languages and dialects. Some of his current projects investigate the measurement of (dis)similarity in Bengali echo reduplication, the acoustic and electroglottographic properties of contrastive voice quality in English, and the intonation and speech rhythm of infant-directed speech. He has also been developing a typological model of South Asian intonational phonology within the Autosegmental-Metrical framework.

Katherine McKinney-Bock

Visiting Assistant Professor in Linguistics
Email | Website | Vollum 313
B.H.A. 2006 Carnegie Mellon University. M.A. 2009, Ph.D. 2013 University of Southern California. Reed College 2013 - .

Katy McKinney-Bock

Teaching: Katy teaches courses in both experimental and formal linguistics, primarily focusing on syntax (the structure of expressions) and semantics (the meaning of expressions). Topics covered in her courses include formal theories of syntax and semantics, experimental and mathematical methods in linguistics, and common features of language and other cognitive faculties (vision, music, mathematical computation). She also teaches statistics, research methods, and composition.

Research: Katy's research focuses on formal syntax, semantics and psycholinguistics. Her research interests include: Graph Theoretic Syntax, multidominance, clausal embedding, relativization, the syntax/semantics of adjectives, eye-tracking in the visual world paradigm, and effects of focus on word order. Her research revisits foundational issues within the Minimalist Program in syntax, and she takes narrow syntax to be a more abstract representation from which constituent structure is derived, using graph theoretic principles. Her research on adjectives unifies the syntax behind ordering restrictions and the semantics of comparison class dependency. She has used eye-tracking and ERP methods to test experimentally the syntax and semantics of adjectives. Katy has also documented through fieldwork patterns of topic, focus and word order in Saisiyat, a Formosan language.

Matt Pearson

Professor of Linguistics (on sabbatical 2016-2017)
Email | Website
B.A. 1992 Reed College. M.A. 1996, Ph.D. 2000 University of California, Los Angeles. Reed College 2001 - .

Matt Pearson

Teaching: Matt teaches courses in a variety of subjects relating to formal analysis. His focus is on introductory and advanced syntax from a generative perspective, as well as grammatical description, cross-linguistic variation, and language universals. In addition, he regularly offers courses in morphology (and its interface with phonology and syntax), semantics (and its interface with syntax), and field methods. Matt has also taught courses in phonology, historical linguistics, and the structure of Austronesian languages.

Research: Matt's research focuses on the morpho-syntax of Malagasy (Merina dialect), an Austronesian language spoken on the island of Madagascar. Topics which he has investigated include word order variation; topic, focus, and the structure of the left periphery; argument structure and its relationship to verbal aspect and verb morphology; double object and applicative constructions; tense and aspect; and constraints on A-bar extraction.

Julia Swan

Visiting Assistant Professor in Linguistics
Email | Website Eliot 101B
B.A. 2005, M.A. 2006 Indiana University. Ph.D. 2016 University of Chicago. Reed College 2016 - .

Julia SwanTeaching: Julia teaches courses related to social variation and social meaning in language. These courses in sociolinguistics involve understanding the relationship of language to gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and social class. They also consider dialectology and understanding regional patterns of language use. Julia is teaching Intro to Language, Society, and Culture; Contact Languages; Dialects of English; and Language, Race and Ethnicity in the West. Julia has taught both English and French as second/foreign languages in addition to teaching in theoretical sociolinguistics. She has also TA-ed Intro to Linguistics, Intro to Phonetics and Phonology, Historical Linguistics/Language Variation and Change, and Trends in Sociolinguistics.

Research: Julia’s research addresses primarily sociophonetic variation in African American English, Pacific Northwest English, and Canadian English. Most recently, her dissertation provided an analysis of 5 phonetic dialect features of Seattle, WA and Vancouver, B.C. She is especially interested in language and social/ethnic identity, sound change, and social meaning. Julia and Reed colleague Kara Becker are currently working on a perceptual project to better understand the social meaning attributed to salient features of West Coast English. Julia has presented on phonetic, syntactic and semantic features of various English dialects. She has also collaborated with researchers in education to address institutional discrimination against students from stigmatized language backgrounds.