Seeking to shed new light on the extensive grammatical and lexical changes that English has undergone during the past 1,000 years, John Hawkins is developing a new approach to the typology of Modern English, drawing on insights from both parsing and language typology. Typology is a branch of linguistics that focuses on the study, comparison and classification of languages, and on analysis of the structural similarities between languages. Typology is somewhat analogous to genetic classification in biology.
Robert Bayley follows in the linguistic tradition established by William Labov. He is currently working on an edited volume, Variation in Second and Heritage Languages: Crosslinguistic Perspectives, and is collaborating with Kristen Kennedy Terry on another book on social network analysis for second language acquisition research.
In the area of language policy, Vai Ramanathan and recent Ph.D. Emily Moline are collaborating in a study of literacy policies and practices in cooperation with Yolo Reads, a community-based literacy organization in Yolo County.
This project investigates coarticulation: the contextual variation in the pronunciation of consonants and vowels when they occur next to other sounds. This project addresses the question of what aspects of this articulatory overlap are universal across speakers and what aspects can vary across speakers, by examining how speakers of American English vary in their coarticulation patterns producing the same set of words. Since coarticulation provides advance information about upcoming sounds in the word, it can be used predictively by listeners to comprehend speech more efficiently.
Like all linguists, computational linguists are interested in human language. But the methods they use to study natural language set them apart. They study language in the context of computation, which often involves programming machines to do some sort of Natural Language Processing (NLP).
Linguistics is a broad, methodologically diverse discipline. A language field worker doing descriptive work on an undocumented language may spend most of the day transcribing that language in phonetic symbols. Meanwhile, a psycholinguist may be gathering subjects for an experiment involving subjects reading sentences while their brains are scanned. Down the hall, a syntactician may be drawing complex trees and developing a rigorous formalism to account for some complex word movement operations.