Linguistics, the scientific study of human language and languages, is both a discipline in itself and an interdisciplinary hub with strong ties to various other fields. The discipline studies the structure, use, and history of language: structure is divided into phonetics (speech production and perception), phonology (sound systems), morphology (word structure), syntax (sentence structure), semantics (meaning in linguistic structure), pragmatics (meaning in context), and discourse (the structure of texts). Language use in the broadest sense encompasses sociolinguistics (language in society); psycholinguistics/neurolinguistics (the psychology and neurological basis of language); and language acquisition by children (first-language acquisition) and adults (second-language acquisition). The primary focus of historical linguistics is language change. The field's strongest interdisciplinary ties are to anthropology (anthropological linguistics and linguistic anthropology), psychology (the psychology of language), philosophy (the philosophy of language, linked especially to the study of semantics and pragmatics), computer science (computational linguistics), sociology (the sociology of language), evolutionary biology (the origins of human language), and acoustics (linked especially to phonetics).

Editor in Chief

After receiving her Ph.D. in 1968, Sally Thomason taught Slavic linguistics at Yale (1968-1971) and then general linguistics at the University of Pittsburgh (1972-1998). Since 1999 she has been at the University of Michigan, where she is now the William J. Gedney Collegiate Professor of Linguistics and Chair of the Linguistics Department. Thomason has worked with the Salish & Pend d'Oreille Culture Committee in St. Ignatius, Montana, since 1981, compiling a dictionary and other materials for the tribes' Salish-Pend d'Oreille language program.

OUP: Where is your current research focused?

Thomason: My current research focuses on contact-induced language change and Salishan linguistics, but I also have a continuing interest in debunking linguistic pseudoscience. A few of my publications are `Chinook Jargon in areal and historical context' (Language, 1983), `Genetic relationship and the case of Ma'a (Mbugu)' (Studies in African Linguistics, 1983), `Before the Lingua Franca: Pidgin Arabic in the eleventh century A.D.' (with Alaa Elgibali, Lingua , 1986), Language contact, creolization, and genetic linguistics (with Terrence Kaufman, 1988, 1991), Language contact: an introduction (2001), `On the unpredictability of contact effects' (2000), `Linguistic areas and language history' (2000), `Truncation in Montana Salish' (with Lucy Thomason, 2004), `Language contact and deliberate change' (Journal of Language Contact, 2007), and `At a loss for words' (Natural History magazine, December 2007/January 2008). I was editor of Language (1988-1994), and I'm currently on the editorial boards of Studies in pidgin and creole languages, Bilingualism: language and cognition, and the Journal of Historical Linguistics.

OUP: What committees have you served on?

Thomason: I've served on various Linguistic Society of America committees (as a member of the Executive Committee 2001-2003) and taught at three LSA summer Linguistic Institutes (as the Collitz Professor in 1999); I was President of the LSA in 2009. I was Chair of the Linguistics & Language Sciences section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1996 and the section Secretary in 2001-2005; since 2010 I've been a Fellow of the AAAS. I was President of the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas in 2000. I'm currently on the international Advisory Board of the Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics (LOT) and was formerly on the advisory board of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (2001-2007). Among my less academic activities are blogging on Language Log (,) expert witnessing in various court cases, and doodling (I'm a member of Alpine Artisans in Condon & Seeley Lake, Montana).

Editorial Board


Senior Editors
Rusty Barrett
The University of Michigan
Patrice Beddor
The University of Michigan
Gene Buckley
University of Pennsylvania
Marianne Mithun
University of California, Santa Barbara
Ian Roberts
Cambridge University

Volume Editors

Keith Allan
Monash University

Matthew Baerman
University of Surrey

Robert Bayley
University of California, Davis

Robert I. Binnick
University of Toronto

Jennifer Collins Bloomquist
Gettysburg College

Cedric Boeckx
Catalan Institute for Advanced Studies

Richard Cameron
University of Illinois at Chicago

Guglielmo Cinque
University of Venice

Abigail C. Cohn
Cornell University

Paola Crisma
University of Trieste

Hubert Cuyckens
University of Leuven

Jacques Durand
Universite de Toulouse - Le Mirail

Philip Durkin
Oxford University Press

Caroline Féry
University of Frankfurt

Markku Filppula
University of Eastern Finland

Cécile Fougeron
CNRS/University of Paris 3

Andrew Garrett
UC Berkeley

Dirk Geeraerts
University of Leuven

Kathleen R. Gibson
University of Texas Houston

Lisa Green
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Ulrike Gut
Westfalische Wilhelms-Universitat Munster

Bernd Heine
University of Cologne

Wolfram Hinzen
Durham University

Thomas Hoffmann
University of Osnabrück
Patrick Honeybone
University of Edinburgh

Carole Hough
University of Glasgow

Yan Huang
University of Auckland

Marie K. Huffman
SUNY Stony Brook

Shinichiro Ishihara

Robert B. Kaplan
University of Southern California

Richard S. Kayne
New York University

Juhani Klemola
University of Tampere

Gjert Kristoffersen
Universitetet i Bergen

Sonja Lanehart
University of Texas at San Antonio

Jeffrey Lidz
University of Maryland

Rochelle Lieber
University of New Hampshire

Giuseppe (Pino) Longobardi
University of Trieste

Ceil Lucas
Gallaudet University

Edouard Machery
University of Pittsburgh

Andrej Malchukov
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Kirsten Malmkjær
University of Leicester

Ruslan Mitkov
University of Wolverhampton

Shigeru Miyagawa

Heiko Narrog
Darwin College

Heiko Narrog
Tohoku University

Terttu Nevalainen
University of Helsinki

Jan Nuyts
University of Antwerp

Jonathan Owens
University of Bayreuth
Joe Pater
University of Massachusetts

Gillian Ramchand
University of Tromso

Charles Reiss
Concordia University

Ian Roberts
University of Cambridge

Joseph Salmons
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Devyani Sharma
Queen Mary University of London

William Snyder
University of Connecticut

Lawrence M. Solan
Brooklyn Law School

Jae Jung Song
University of Otago

Andrew Spencer
University of Essex

Pavol Štekauer
Šafárik University, Košice

Chaofen Sun
Stanford University

Maggie Tallerman
Newcastle University

John R. Taylor
University of Otago

Nicholas Thieberger
University of Melbourne

Peter Tiersma
Loyola Los Angeles

Elizabeth Closs Traugott
Stanford University

Graeme Trousdale
University of Edinburgh

Johan Van Der Auwera
University of Antwerp

Rainer Vossen
Goethe Universitat

William S-Y Wang
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Michael Weiss
Cornell University

Markus Werning
Ruhr University of Bochum

Kevin Windle
Australian National University

We want to hear from you.
Oxford Handbooks Online is a partnership between the publisher and the academic community, and we invite your questions about the content. Please feel welcome to email Julia Kostova, our Linguistics editor, with comments, suggestions, or questions.