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

Philip DavisPhilip Davis
Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor Emeritus of Linguistics
Ph.D. Linguistics, Cornell University. Semantics and syntax, language and intelligence, Amerindian (Bella Coola; Alabama), Austronesian (Atayal, Ilokano, Yogad). More »

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Student Spotlight

Anthony KothAnthony Koth
Discourse analysis, syntax and semantics and their interface(s)

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Upcoming Events

Thursday, November 6
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Herring Hall 125
Fangfang Li
University of Lethbridge

Thursday, November 13
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Herring Hall 125
Simon Fischer-Baum
Rice University Psychology

Thursday, November 20
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Herring Hall 125
Jim Stanford
Dartmouth College

The Rice Linguistics Society