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Linguistics Program

Faculty Areas of Specialization

Our program's approach to research and training is remarkably interdisciplinary, represented by our broad areas of specialization: Psycholinguistics and Cognitive and Formal Linguistics; Second Language Acquisition and TESOL; and Social, Cultural, and Historical Linguistics.

Psycholinguistics and Cognitive and Formal Linguistics

The Linguistics Program at South Carolina offers M.A. and Ph.D. specializations in psycholinguistics and in cognitive and formal approaches to linguistics.

The faculty members who teach in these specializations teach graduate courses in syntax, semantics, pragmatics, psycholinguistics, cognitive science, philosophy of language, psychology of language, and in experimental methods.

Our students have the opportunity to become familiar with a variety of methodological approaches: theoretical, experimental (including behavioral, eye tracking, and neuroimaging), and corpus-based analysis. In particular, students have the opportunity to work in the labs housed at the Institute of Mind and Brain that host state-of-the-art equipment for eye tracking, EEG/ERP, and behavioral testing.

The Linguistics Program requires some training in formal linguistics from all its doctoral students and offers courses in other specializations, such as Sociolinguistics, Linguistic Anthropology, Second Language Acquisition/TESOL, and Historical Linguistics. Thus students have opportunities to become well versed in the broad range of linguistic subfields.

  • Amit AlmorAssociate Professor (Psychology), Ph.D., Brown University, 1995. Areas of interest: Psycholinguistics, spoken and written language processing, reference processing, attention and language, space and language, neuroimaging
  • Anne BezuidenhoutProfessor (Philosophy), Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1990. Areas of interest: Philosophy of language, semantics, pragmatics, experimental approaches to semantics and pragmatics.
  • Amanda Dalola, Assistant Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; French), PhD, French Linguistics, UT Austin, 2014. Areas of interest: Phonetics, Sociophonetics, Sociolinguistics, Theoretical Phonology, Lab Phonology, Historical Romance.
  • Stanley Dubinsky, Professor (English), Ph.D., Cornell University, 1985. Areas of interest: Syntax, semantics, morphology, language rights, and linguistic theory.
  • D. Eric Holt, Associate Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; Spanish), PhD in Hispanic Linguistics, Georgetown University, 1997. Areas of interest: Hispanic linguistics, history and dialects of Spanish and Portuguese, second language Spanish pronunciation, phonology, Optimality Theory
  • Jiang Liu, Assistant Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; Chinese), Ph.D., Linguistics, University of Kansas, 2013. Areas of Interest: Language acquisition, Phonetics, Phonology, Psycholinguistics, Neurolinguistics, Chinese linguistics (Chinese tones, Chinese character recognition)
  • Robin Morris, Professor (Psychology), Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, 1990. Areas of interest: Psycholinguistics, language processing in reading, vocabulary acquisition, eye movement monitoring.
  • Mila Tasseva-Kurktchieva, Program Director and Research Associate Professor (Linguistics), Ph.D., University of South Carolina, 2006. Areas of interest: SLA theories, generative SLA, L2 processing, comprehension and production in L2, syntactic theory, linguistic theory.
  • Dirk den Ouden, (Affiliate Faculty), Associate Professor; Director, Neurolinguistics Laboratory (Communication Sciences and Disorders), Ph.D., University of Groningen (The Netherlands), 2002. Areas of interest: Neural correlates of language representation and use; aphasia, stroke; phonology, apraxia of speech; syntax, verbs, sentence production/processing; functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); electroencephalograhy (EEG); transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), High-Definition transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (HD-tDCS).
  • Lisa Fitton, (Affiliate Faculty), Assistant Professor (Communication Sciences and Disorders), Ph.D., Florida State University, 2018. Areas of Interest: Second Language Acquisition, Minority Dialects, Literacy Development, Educational Assessment.
  • Dan Fogerty(Affiliate Faculty), Assistant Professor (Communication Sciences and Disorders), Ph.D., Indiana University, (Majors: Speech and Hearing Science, Cognitive Science), 2010. Areas of interest: Acoustics, phonetics, speech perception, cognitive hearing science.
  • William Matchin, (Affiliate Faculty), Assistant Professor (Communication Sciences and Disorders), Ph.D, University of California, Irvine, 2014. Areas of Interest: Neurolinguistics, Syntax, Aphasia.
  • Brett Sherman, (Affiliate Faculty), Assistant Professor (Philosophy). Ph.D., Princeton University, 2008. Areas of Interest: Philosophy of Language, Semantics, Pragmatics, Modality, Context-dependence. 
  • Krystal Werfel, (Affiliate Faculty), Assistant Professor (Communication Sciences and Disorders), Ph.D., Vanderbilt University, 2012
Students graduating from our M.A. Program with a specialization in psycholinguistics and formal and cognitive linguistics have mainly gone on to complete Ph.D. studies in linguistics or psycholinguistics.  Our doctoral graduates have mainly gone to academic positions.

Second Language Acquisition and TESOL

Second language acquisition is the study of how people learn a second language (hereafter, L2) given the kind of exposure they have to it.  This field of study, then, encompasses both the cognitive processes which determine learning (traditionally thought of as SLA) and the pedagogical practices which effect and enhance that learning (traditionally thought of as ESL).  By nature, this field of study is interdisciplinary, since learning processes are understood especially, but not exclusively, via linguistic, sociolinguistic, and psycholinguistic perspectives, while classroom practices are informed by educational linguistic perspectives.

The Linguistics Program at the University of South Carolina offers the following degrees:

  • TESOL certificate of graduate studies
  • M.A. with a concentration in Second Language Acquisition and TESOL
  • Ph.D. with a concentration in Second Language Acquisition and TESOL

Our faculty members who teach in the SLA and TESOL specializations are extremely diverse in their training and theoretical perspectives. They explore a wide array of issues, from pedagogical theories that assist language teachers to linguistic theories that account for the acquisition process. Their methods are equally inclusive and cover the broad array of qualitative and quantitative research in second and foreign language acquisition. Our students are trained in an interdisciplinary curriculum that includes formal linguistics, a primary area of study, and a broad range of linguistic subfields covered by our sixteen-person Linguistics Program faculty. The students in the SLA and TESOL concentration are trained in an unusually comprehensive set of methodological approaches: corpus studies, psycholinguistic approaches, classroom-based research, computer-mediated teaching and research, among others. In addition to the core classes, students have ample freedom to tailor their L2 curriculum to their own needs and interests, focusing either on understanding how students learn or on how best to teach, or a combination of the two. The program of study culminates in the writing of a thesis or dissertation on a topic of the student's choosing.  

  • D. Eric Holt, Associate Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; Spanish), PhD in Hispanic Linguistics, Georgetown University, 1997. Areas of interest: Hispanic linguistics, history and dialects of Spanish and Portuguese, second language Spanish pronunciation, phonology, Optimality Theory
  • Jiang Liu, Assistant Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; Chinese), Ph.D., Linguistics, University of Kansas, 2013. Areas of Interest: Language acquisition, Phonetics, Phonology, Psycholinguistics, Neurolinguistics, Chinese linguistics (Chinese tones, Chinese character recognition)
  • Qiandi Liu, Assistant Professor (English),  PhD in Applied Linguistics and TESL, Northern Arizona University, 2016. Areas of interest: ESL writing, grammar and pedagogy, SLA.
  • Paul Malovrh,  Associate Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; Spanish), PhD in Spanish Linguistics, Indiana University, 2008. Areas of interest: SLA, development of form-function mapping, L2 psycholinguistic processing, word-recognition in L2 reading; task-induced variation in L2 production, development of L2 comprehension / production interface.
  • Nina MorenoAssociate Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; Spanish), PhD in Spanish Linguistics, Georgetown University, 2007. Areas of interest: Second Language Acquisition, Spanish Applied Linguistics, and Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL).
  • Mila Tasseva-Kurktchieva, Program Director, PhD in Linguistics, University of South Carolina, 2006. Areas of interest: second language acquisition, syntactic theory.
  • Junko Baba(Affiliate Faculty), Associate Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; Japanese), Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin, 1996. Areas of interest: Sociolinguistics, pragmatics, applied linguistics, Japanese.
  • Lara Ducate, (Affiliate Faculty), Associate Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; German), Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin, 2003. Areas of interest: Sociocultural Theory, discourse analysis, computer-mediated communication, Mikhail Bakhtin.
  • Lisa Fitton, (Affiliate Faculty), Assistant Professor (Communication Sciences and Disorders), Ph.D., Florida State University, 2018. Areas of Interest: Second Language Acquisition, Minority Dialects, Literacy Development, Educational Assessment.
  • Lara Lomicka-Anderson, (Affiliate Faculty), Associate Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; French & Classics), Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, 2001. Areas of interest: CALL (computer –assisted language learning), intercultural learning and teaching, telecollaborative learning environments, and teacher education.
  • Susi Long, (Affiliate Faculty), Associate Professor (Instruction and Education), Ph.D., Ohio State University, 1995. Areas of interest: (a) Collaboration with teacher researchers to explore home and community language and literacies; issues of culture, race, and language; and consideration of findings as they relate to transformation in schools and society, and (b) the experiences of new teachers as they negotiate within and beyond the status quo.
  • Sherry Warren, (Affiliate Faculty), Academic Director, USC International Accelerator Program, PhD in Linguistics, University of South Carolina. Areas of interest: L2 writing, ESL program administration, English for Academic Purposes, psycholinguistics, SLA and teaching.

Students graduating from our M.A. Program with a specialization in L2 studies have obtained jobs teaching either English as a second language or foreign languages to speakers of English in public and private schools, both here in the United States and abroad.  Our doctoral graduates have mainly gone to academic positions in second language acquisition.

Social, Cultural, and Historical Linguistics

Students may choose special fields (sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, and historical linguistics) that fall under our Social, Cultural, and Historical Linguistics specializations.

Our faculty members who teach in the Social, Cultural, and Historical Linguistics specialization, while remarkably diverse in their training, share an interest in analyzing how language data relates to sociocultural and/or historical phenomena.

Our sociolinguists and linguistic anthropologists are united in providing students with multiple points of entry to examining the language-sociocultural interface. They have conducted research within international and (trans)national settings (France, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Illinois, Iowa, South Carolina, Texas, U.S. immigrant communities, U.S. and transnational media) and on an array of language varieties (African American English, Asian American language, French, Gullah, Kaqchikel, Korean, Mam, Spanish, Taíno). Students have the opportunity to become familiar with an unusually comprehensive set of quantitative and qualitative methods for conducting variationist, interactional, and ethnographic research.

Our historical linguists guide students in examining language history and language change, based on data gathered from modern standard languages, dialects, and historical documents, using such methods as language comparison, language typology, corpus studies, phonological theory, and laboratory phonology. Faculty research focuses primarily on historical phonology, historical morphology, and language contact, dealing mostly with Germanic (English, German, Scandinavian, Dutch, Frisian) and Romance (French, Spanish, Portuguese) languages.

Our dynamic and collaborative community of students and faculty meet regularly to share work, exchange ideas, and learn from one another during our Sociolinguistics, Linguistic Anthropology, and Historical Linguistics Lab meetings.

  • Elaine ChunAssociate Professor (English), Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin, 2007. Areas of interest: Sociolinguistics, Linguistic Anthropology, Interaction, Race/Gender/Sexuality, Racism, Authenticity, Asian American Language.
  • Amanda Dalola, Assistant Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; French), PhD, French Linguistics, UT Austin, 2014. Areas of interest: Phonetics, Sociophonetics, Sociolinguistics, Theoretical Phonology, Lab Phonology, Historical Romance.
  • Kurt Goblirsch, Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; German), Ph.D.,University of Minnesota, 1990. Areas of interest: German Sociolinguistics, Comparative Germanic Linguistics (German, English, Scandinavian, Dutch, Frisian), Historical Linguistics, Language Typology, Dialectology, Phonology, Morphology, Etymology.
  • Eric Holt, Associate Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; Spanish), Ph.D., Georgetown University, 1997. Areas of interest: Phonology, Historical linguistics, dialectology.
  • Jennifer F. Reynolds, Professor (Anthropology) , Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 2002. Areas of interest: Linguistic anthropology, language socialization, political economy of languages.
  • Tracey Weldon, Associate Professor (English), Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 1998. Areas of interest: Sociolinguistics, morpho-syntactic variation.
  • Junko Baba, (Affiliate Faculty), Associate Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; Japanese), Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin, 1996. Areas of interest: Sociolinguistics, pragmatics, applied linguistics, Japanese.
  • Lara Ducate, (Affiliate Faculty), Associate Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; German), Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin, 2003. Areas of interest: Sociocultural Theory, discourse analysis, computer-mediated communication, Mikhail Bakhtin.
  • Sherina Feliciano-Santos, (Affiliate Faculty), Assistant Professor (Anthropology), Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2011. Areas of interest: Linguistic anthropology, the politics of language use, social activism, language and cultural revitalization, racial and ethnic formations, religion; narrative, and face-to-face interaction.
  • Scott Gwara(Affiliate Faculty), Professor (English), Ph.D., University of Toronto, 1993. Areas of interest: Bilingualism in pre-conquest England, Old English and Anglo-Latin philology.
Students graduating from our M.A. Program with a specialization in social, cultural, and historical linguistics have undertaken different career paths working in think thanks, as language conservationists, as independent technical writers, or independent consultants.  Our doctoral graduates have mainly gone to academic positions.

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