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

Stephen A. TylerStephen A. Tyler
Herbert S. Autrey Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Linguistics
Ph.D. Anthropology, Stanford University. Cognitive studies, philosophy of language, anthropological linguistics, languages of India. More »

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Student Spotlight

Daniela BennerDaniela Benner
Language documentation and description, linguistic anthropology, sociolinguistics, cognitive linguistics, Tibeto-Burman linguistics, linguistics of the U.S.-Mexico border

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The Rice Linguistics Society