Rice Unconventional Wisdom

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The Rice Linguistics Department is the home of an active community of scholars with a wide range of interests. Broadly defined, the department adopts a functional, usage-based approach to language and linguistic theory. A number of recurrent themes emerge in faculty research and the degree programs offered: in-depth investigation of languages, coupled with the search for cross-linguistic generalization; the effects of semantics, language-in-use, sociocultural factors, and other functional influences that motivate and constrain linguistic form; grounding of theories in solid empirical data of many sorts; an interest in the relation between language and mind; and interest in discourse and social/communicative interaction more generally. These interests lead to intensive research activity in empirically well-supported theoretical and descriptive linguistics:

  • cognitive/functional linguistics
  • typology and language universals
  • field studies in American Indian, Australian, Austronesian, African, and other languages
  • sociolinguistics
  • discourse studies
  • phonetics and speech processing
  • laboratory phonology
  • language change and grammaticization

Department History


Faculty Spotlight

Nancy NiedzielskiNancy Niedzielski
Associate Professor of Linguistics
Ph.D. Linguistics, University of California, Santa Barbara. Sociolinguistics, speech perception, dialectology, phonetics, speech technology, language and gender. More »

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Student Spotlight

Vlad SoareVlad Soare
Language Documentation and Description, Contact Linguistics and Linguistic Anthropology.

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Upcoming Events

Thursday, October 2
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Herring Hall 125
Language Surveys in Papua New Guinea: Classifying 1000 Languages
Karl Franklin

Thursday, October 16
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Herring Hall 125
Benefits of Home Language Use in Bilingual Children with Hearing Loss
Ferenc Bunta
University of Houston Communication Sciences and Disorders

The Rice Linguistics Society