Graduate Student Research Highlights

Linguistics PhD students join a supportive community, in which everyone learns something about everyone else’s research areas. In addition to individual research with faculty advisors, there are ample opportunities to collaborate with other faculty mentors and with each other using innovative methods that cross specializations, using these synergies to create new approaches to understanding language phenomena. Below we highlight our current students and showcase the diversity of our graduate student research.

Min and Consultant

Field Research

My research focuses on language documentation and description. Currently, I have two ongoing research projects. The first project is about an African language called Herero (Bantu, Namibia). I describe a morpho-phonological phenomenon in Herero verb conjugation where the “final vowel” sometimes changes its form in some morphological and phonological contexts. My other project is about my native language called Isaan or Isan (Tai-Kadai, Thailand), which I have been interviewing the local people about their lives, cultures, and experiences. I am especially interested in how information structure is expressed in Isaan. I examine the use of discourse particles and their relationship with how speakers organize ‘given/old’ vs. ‘new’ information in a discourse. I plan on writing a descriptive grammar of Isaan to be used as a tool for future language teachers as part of language maintenance effort. -Min Raksachat (3rd year PhD)

Wright

Experimental Research

I am interested in experimental work on the perception and production of novel suprasegmental features in adults, taking into account the first language and the phonological neighborhood. I also continue my work in descriptive linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman area, specifically of underdocumented languages in Myanmar. -Jonathan Wright (4th year PhD)

Allison

Language Revitalization

My research focuses on applied questions about language revitalization – why communities do it, what kinds of approaches they take, and what role language teaching plays in these efforts. Recently I published an article based on interviews with ten teachers of Native languages of the Pacific Northwest, who shared the challenges they have faced in using existing language documentation and the ideas they propose, both for other language teachers and for future language documentation projects. My closely related interests are pedagogical techniques and student engagement, including place-based pedagogy for language learning, vocabulary acquisition in less commonly taught languages, and engaged pedagogy for students in higher education. -Allison Taylor-Adams (5th year PhD)