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

Christina M. Willis OkoChristina M. Willis Oko
Assistant Professor of Linguistics
Ph.D. Linguistics, University of Texas at Austin. Language documentation and description, Tibeto-Burman languages, languages of India, syntax, language typology.

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Student Spotlight

Evgeniya PoluektovaEvgeniya Poluektova
 Cognitive & functional linguistics, semantics, language universals and typology, discourse and grammar

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