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

Suzanne KemmerSuzanne Kemmer
Associate Professor of Linguistics and Director of Cognitive Sciences
Ph.D. Linguistics, Stanford University. Language universals and typology, semantics, syntactic and semantic change, cognitive linguistics, Austronesian and African languages. More »

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Student Spotlight

Ruping Tso(2)Ruping Tso
cognitive linguistics, corpus linguistics, Chinese linguistics, and lexical semantics

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Upcoming Events

Thursday, September 4
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Herring Hall 125
Intergestural Timing and Aerodynamic Parameters in Spanish Syllables: Three Cases
Mark Gibson
Rice University

Thursday, September 11
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Herring Hall 125
Amy Franklin
UT Health Science Center

Thursday, September 18
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Herring Hall 125
Özge Gürcanl
Rice University Psychology

The Rice Linguistics Society