An Explanation of Academic Titles in the Department of Linguistics at Georgetown:

Tenure Line Faculty are all full-time appointments: Assistant Professor (without tenure, most junior), and the two permanent appointments: Associate Professor (tenured) and (Full) Professor (tenured, most senior level)*

Non-Tenure Line Faculty are all fixed term appointments, meaning without tenure, and may be part time or full time. Listed in order of increasing seniority, non-tenure-line faculty may be appointed as Assistant, Associate or (Full) Research Professor, or as Assistant, Associate or (Full) Teaching Professor.

Adjunct Lecturer: Appointed to teach one or more courses, semester-by-semester.

*Students are encouraged to take advantage of the expertise of all our faculty, but Ph.D. students should be aware that only tenure line faculty are eligible to direct dissertations.

Alison_BAlison Biggs

Assistant Teaching Professor (website)
Interests: Syntax, syntax-semantics interface, morphology, comparative syntax, syntactic variation and change, dialect syntax, Mandarin and varieties of Chinese, understudied languages

Alison Biggs works on theoretical and comparative syntax, focusing on topics at the intersection of syntax, semantics, and morphology. She has a particular interest in argument structure, with recent projects examining the syntax and semantics of complex predication; participle syntax and semantics; and variability in ditransitive syntax. She has also published on linguistic variation and change in connection with dialect morphosyntax. She completed her PhD at Cambridge in 2015, and has previously held posts at Oxford and UPenn. At Georgetown, she teaches courses on syntax and semantics.

Connor-Linton_JeffJeffrey T. Connor-Linton

Associate Professor 
Interests: Cross-cultural (mis)communication, language assessment, quantitative discourse analysis, second language acquisition, study abroad and foreign language learning

Jeff Connor-Linton (Ph.D., Linguistics, University of Southern California) joined the Linguistics Department at Georgetown in 1989, and was Department Chair from 1999-2003. He uses a multi-dimensional, quantitative approach to discourse analysis to investigate processes of cross-cultural (mis)communication, language assessment, and second language acquisition. His current research is a stylistic analysis of new web genres. He is co-editor of the Cambridge University Press textbook, An Introduction to Language and Linguistics (2nd edition). Dr. Connor-Linton is Past President and current Secretary-Treasurer of the American Association for Applied Linguistics. 


Cynthia GordonCynthia Gordon

Associate Professor 
Vice-Chair, Department of Linguistics
Director, Sociolinguistics Concentration
Interests: Discourse analysis, interactional sociolinguistics, theories of framing and intertextuality, linguistic construction of relationships and identities, digital/online discourse.

Cynthia Gordon uses theories and methods of discourse analysis to examine everyday social interactions in family, educational, health, and online/digital contexts. Author of Making Meanings, Creating Family (Oxford, 2009), she was a 2012-2013 fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Her current research focuses on intertextuality and metadiscourse in online discussion boards; she is also involved with collaborative projects on the topics of professional identity socialization and mobile phone communication.

Heidi HamiltonHeidi E. Hamilton

Professor (website)
Interests: Discourse analysis,  intertextuality, institutional discourse, health discourse, language and Alzheimer’s disease

Heidi E. Hamilton is Professor in the Department of Linguistics at Georgetown University, where she has taught courses in linguistic discourse analysis and applications of interactional sociolinguistics since 1990. Her researcand consulting interests focus on the interrelationships between language and a variety of health care issues and contexts. Her books include Conversations with an Alzheimer's Patient, Language and Communication in Old Age: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, Glimmers: A Journey into Alzheimer's Disease, Blackwell Handbook of Discourse Analysis (with Schiffrin and Tannen), Linguistics, Language, and the Professions (with Alatis and Tan), and the Routledge Handbook of Language and Health Communication (with Chou),  and Language, Dementia and Meaning Making: Navigating Everyday Challenges of Epistemic Understanding and Face (in preparation).

Alexandra_JAlexandra Johnston

Assistant Teaching Professor
Director, M.A. in Language and Communication
Interests: Discourse analysis, interactional sociolinguistics, intercultural (mis)communication, gender and workplace discourse, gatekeeping encounters, using applied sociolinguistics in career paths in business, government, academia

Alexandra received her PhD in Linguistics from Georgetown University in 2003. She then worked over 10 years using her sociolinguistics training to deliver professional development programs to corporate, government, educational and nonprofit organizations. Her experience includes serving as Vice President of Integrity Communications, a professional development firm offering consulting and executive coaching on communication skills in the workplace, teaching at Iowa State University, working as a Director of the Fulbright Association, and founding Strategic Language Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in intercultural communication training. Alex holds a BA in East Asian Studies and International Relations from Washington University in St. Louis, an MA in East Asian Studies from Stanford, and an MA in TESL from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Alex speaks Japanese, having spent three years living in Kyoto and Osaka on international exchange fellowships, and is a Fulbright U.S. Student Program alumna. She also spends extensive periods of time in Lebanon.

Ruth KramerRuth T. Kramer

Associate Professor (website)
Director, Theoretical Linguistics Concentration
Interests: Syntax, morphology, Amharic, Ancient Egyptian, gender, number, agreement, clitics, Distributed Morphology, minimalism

Ruth Kramer conducts research on the syntax and morphology of Amharic (Ethiosemitic) and Ancient Egyptian, specializing in gender, number, definite-marking, and agreement. Her monograph The Morphosyntax of Gender will be published by Oxford University Press in Fall 2015, and she has had papers accepted at such journals as Natural Language and Linguistic Theory,Linguistic Inquiry, Syntax and Lingua. She regularly consults with members of the local Ethiopian immigrant community who speak Amharic as part of her research; please contact her if you speak Amharic and are interested in becoming involved. She also teaches courses on syntax and morphology in the department, including Grammatical Analysis.

David LightfootDavid Lightfoot

Director, Communication, Culture & Technology Program 
Co-director, Interdisciplinary PhD-Level in Cognitive Science
Interests: Syntactic variation, diachronic change, childhood acquisition, role of linguistics in the brain and cognitive sciences

David Lightfoot writes on syntactic theory, language acquisition and historical change, which he views as intimately related. He argues that internal language change is contingent and fluky, takes place in a sequence of bursts, and is best viewed as the cumulative effect of changes in individual grammars, where a grammar is a "language organ" represented in a person's mind/brain. That entails a non-standard view of language acquisition as "cue-based." He came to Georgetown in 2001 as dean of the Graduate School. From 2005 he served as Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation, heading the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, returning to Georgetown in 2009.

Sue LorensonSue Lorenson

Senior Associate Dean, Georgetown College 
Adjunct Lecturer

Interests: Phonology, language processing, linguistics and reading, language and the brain

Sue Lorenson (PhD, U. of Arizona;  BA, Swarthmore College) has taught for the department since 1999.  Her day job is as an academic dean in Georgetown College, where she oversees the advising of the junior and senior classes.  She advises linguistics, foreign language and psychology majors, and partners with related academic departments on curricular, planning and administrative issues.

Alison MackeyAlison Mackey

Professor (website)
Director of Graduate Studies
Interests: Second Language Acquisition: input, interaction, corrective feedback and individual differences in L2 learning, research methodology, quantitative and qualitative approaches, second dialect acquisition and linguistic identity construction

Alison Mackey does research into how second languages are learned and how they might best be taught. Her interests include interaction-driven L2 learning, L2 research methodology and the applications of interaction through task-based language teaching, as well as second language dialects and identities. She has published over 60 journal articles and book chapters, and 11 books in total, including the state of the art (2012) Handbook of SLA. She is the editor of Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, published by CUP, and co-director of the Instruments for Research into Second Languages database project (funded by ESRC and the British Academy).

Margaret MaloneMargaret Malone

Teaching Professor
Director, AELRC
Interests: Language assessment, assessment literacy, study abroad, program evaluation and the current state of graduate programs in applied linguistics

Margaret E. Malone (Ph.D., Georgetown University) is Director of the AELRC and Teaching Professor at Georgetown. She is also Director of the Center for Assessment, Research and Development at ACTFL. She has more than two decades of experience in language test development, materials development, delivery of professional development and teacher training through both online and face-to-face methods, data collection and survey research, and program evaluation. Her current research focuses on language assessment literacy, oral proficiency assessment and the relative difficulty of learning different languages.

M_MargeMatthew Marge

Adjunct Lecturer
Interests: Dialogue systems, computational linguistics/ natural language processing, human-robot interaction, machine learning, pragmatics

Matthew Marge conducts research focusing on how robots and other artificial agents can build common ground with people via natural language dialogue. In addition to his adjunct appointment, he is a research scientist at ARL. His publications have appeared at a variety of conference proceedings in computational linguistics, dialogue, and human-robot interaction, such as ACL, SIGdial, and HRI. He earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Language Technologies from Carnegie Mellon University and an M.S. degree in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Edinburgh. He is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the Saint Andrew's Society Scholarship.

Jennifer NyczJennifer Nycz

Assistant Professor (website)
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Interests: Phonological variation, sociolinguistics, (socio)phonetics, phonological theory,  dialect contact, change over the lifespan, vowel systems, accommodation & style-shifting, individual differences in language variation, research methods in phonetics

Jennifer Nycz is a sociolinguist interested in phonological variation: she studies the linguistic, social, and developmental factors affecting how we pronounce the words and sounds of our language, and what such patterns reveal about linguistic representations and linguistic processes. She has published several articles and book chapters on second dialect acquisition and research methods in sociophonetics. Her current work examines how mobile speakers accommodate to new regional dialect forms and how they use variants associated with their home and adoptive regions to convey aspects of place identity.

Lourdes OrtegaLourdes Ortega

Professor (website)
Director, Applied Linguistics Concentration
Convener, Initiative for Multilingual Studies (website)
Interests: Second language acquisition, usage-based linguistics, bi/multilingualism, interfaces between L2 writing and L2 development, systematic research synthesis, epistemology and ethics in applied linguistics.

Lourdes Ortega investigates second language acquisition and focuses on the instructed development of bi/multilingual competencies in adult classroom settings. She has long-standing interests in the study of bilingualism across the lifespan, usage-based linguistics, second language writing, systematic research synthesis, and epistemology and ethics in applied linguistics. Co-recipient of the Pimsleur and the TESOL Research awards (2000), she has also been a doctoral Mellon fellow (1999), a postdoctoral Spencer/National Academy of Education fellow (2003), and a senior research fellow at the Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies (2010). She is past editor of Language Learning (2010-2015) and serves on the editorial boards of this and a number of other journals.


Paul PortnerPaul Portner

Professor (website)
Interests: Semantics, pragmatics, logic, philosophy of language, modality, mood, imperatives, corpus linguistics

Paul Portner is a specialist in semantics and its interfaces with syntax and pragmatics. He has worked on a variety of topics, and is most well-known for research on modality, imperatives, clause type systems, and aspect. His interest in the nature of linguistic meaning first developed when he studied philosophy with a minor in linguistics at Princeton. He did his graduate work at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he wrote a dissertation Situation Theory and the Semantics of Propositional Expressions under the direction of Barbara Hall Partee. Since coming to Georgetown in 1993, Paul has co-led two NSF-funded research projects, has written or co-edited several books, and has published many journal articles and book chapters.


Picture of Professor Hannah SandeHannah Sande

Assistant Professor (website)
Interests: Phonology, Morphology, The phonology/morphology interface, language documentation, Kru, Semitic, African languages

Hannah Sande carries out documentary and theoretical linguistic research. Her theoretical work investigates the interaction of phonology with morphology and syntax, based original data primarily from African languages. She has spent many summers in West Africa working with speakers of Guébie, an otherwise undocumented Kru language spoken in Côte d'Ivoire. She also works locally with speakers of Amharic (Ethiosemitic), Dafing (Mande), and Nouchi (contact language, Côte d'Ivoire). Her dissertation, completed at UC Berkeley, focuses on phonological processes and their interaction with morphosyntax, based on data from Guébie, where much of the morphology is non-affixal but rather involves root-internal changes like tone shift or vowel alternations.

Natalie SchillingNatalie Schilling

Interests: Language variation and change, stylistic variation, sociolinguistic field methods, forensic linguistics

Natalie Schilling specializes in sociolinguistics, especially the quantitative investigation of language variation and change and how it is shaped by, and helps shape, social factors such as regionality, ethnicity and gender. She is particularly interested in stylistic (i.e. intra-speaker) variation and forensic linguistics. She directs the department’s ongoing sociolinguistic investigation of Language and Communication in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area (LCDC), as well as Smith Island Voices, a real and apparent time study of the endangered dialect community of Smith Island, Maryland. She is the author of Sociolinguistic Fieldwork (2013, Cambridge University Press), co-author (with Walt Wolfram) of American English: Dialects and Variation, 3rd edition (2016, Wiley-Blackwell), and co-editor (with J.K. Chambers) of The Handbook of Language Variation and Change, 2nd edition (2013, Wiley-Blackwell).

NAThan Schneider

Assistant Professor (website)
Director, Computational Linguistics Concentration
Interests: computational linguistics/natural language processing; lexical semantics; form-meaning interface; adpositions and case; cognitive linguistics; corpus annotation; machine learning; English, Hebrew, Arabic

Nathan Schneider joins the Georgetown faculty as an Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Linguistics and the Department of Computer Science. He received his BA in 2008 from UC Berkeley, with a double-major in Linguistics and Computer Science, and his PhD in 2014 from Carnegie Mellon University, Language Technologies Institute in the School of Computer Science.  Nathan's research addresses the semantics of natural language text, examining both how humans can represent meaning computationally, and how algorithms can recover meaning from text for scientific inquiry and for natural language processing applications.  His publications have appeared in the journals Computational Linguistics and Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, as well as proceedings of conferences including ACL, NAACL, EACL, EMNLP, and LREC.  Nathan comes to Georgetown from the University of Edinburgh, where he has been a post-doctoral researcher in the School of Informatics Institute for Language, Cognition and Computation.

Jennifer SclafaniJennifer Sclafani

Associate Teaching Professor
Interests: Discourse analysis, language and identity, political discourse, gender, cross-cultural communication, migration, language ideologies

Jennifer Sclafani is Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Linguistics at Georgetown University, where she has been teaching courses in sociolinguistics, language and gender, and cross-cultural communication since 2011. Her research focuses on the discursive construction of political identity in presidential debates. She is also conducting a study on heritage language speakers, language ideologies, and return migration to Greece from the diaspora. Her publications have appeared in Journal of Sociolinguistics, Discourse & Society, and Language in Society. Previously, Jennifer taught at Hellenic American University in Athens, Greece, where she continues to hold a position as visiting professor.

SharanBrahmachari Sharan

Adjunct Lecturer
Interests: Sanskrit philology, Indology, exegesis in Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism, ancient Indian intellectual systems, Braj Bhasha and other pre-modern Indian languages and their diasporic transmission

Dr. Sharan obtained his PhD in Sanskrit at the University of Edinburgh's Department of Literature, Languages and Culture, with pre-doctoral training at the University of Oxford, focussing on pre-modern intellectual systems and Sanskrit text exegesis. He serves currently as Director for Hindu Life in Georgetown University's Campus Ministry, and as an adjunct professor in the Departments of Theology (College) and Asian Studies (SFS). His current research focuses on pre-modern exegetical methodologies and textual criticism.

Nicholas Subtirelu

Assistant Professor (website)
Interests: Educational linguistics, ideology, critical discourse analysis, social justice, globalization, and the spread of English(es)

Nic Subtirelu is Assistant Teaching Professor in the Applied Linguistics concentration. He is interested in the role of language and discourse in education. In particular, he explores how educational institutions respond to linguistic diversity and how they might implement more inclusive practices and policies. Nic was a National Academy of Education / Spencer dissertation fellow (2015-2016) and earned his doctorate in Applied Linguistics from Georgia State University. His recent publications have appeared in Applied Linguistics, Language in Society, and System.

Deborah TannenDeborah Tannen

University Professor (website)
Interests: Discourse analysis; analyzing everyday conversation, including conversations over social media; family interaction; cross-cultural communication; language and gender

Deborah Tannen is a discourse analyst whose research uses the theoretical frameworks and methods of interactional sociolinguistics to examine conversational interaction, cross-cultural communication, gender and language, and new media discourse. Among her 24 books are Conversational Style (Oxford), Talking Voices (Cambridge), Gender and Discourse (Oxford), That’s Not What I Meant! (HarperCollins), You Just Don’t Understand (William Morrow), Talking from 9 to 5 (William Morrow), You’re Wearing THAT? (Ballantine), and You Were Always Mom’s Favorite! (Ballantine). She is currently writing a book about conversations among women friends. She has been McGraw Distinguished Lecturer at Princeton University and has twice been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. She has been a member of the Linguistics Department faculty since 1979.

Amir ZeldesAmir Zeldes

Assistant Professor (website)
Interests: corpus linguistics, syntax-semantics interface, usage-based grammar, discourse relations, multifactorial methods, natural language processing, digital humanities

Amir Zeldes is a specialist in corpus linguistics. He has developed software for corpus annotation, search and visualization. His latest book, Multilayer Corpus Studies, explores multilayer corpora, which model concurrent analyses for morphology, syntax, semantics, coreference and more. His theoretical research focuses on computational discourse models, including studies on modeling discourse relations and referentiality. He has worked on a variety of topics and languages, including idiosyncratic degrees of innovation across constructions, second language writing in German and Natural Language Processing for under-resourced languages, such as Egyptian Coptic.

Elizabeth ZsigaElizabeth Zsiga

Professor (website)
Department Chair
Interests: Phonology, phonetics, and their interface, especially Articulatory Phonology, L2 phonology, Laboratory Phonology, and tone. Languages researched include Setswana, Serbian, Korean, Thai, Russian, Igbo, English

Elizabeth Zsiga’s research investigates linguistic sound patterns: phonetics, phonology, and their interface. She is particularly interested in cases where phonetic data (acoustic and articulatory measurements) can elucidate more abstract cognitive constructs. (See her 2013 textbook: The Sounds of Language.) Languages she has investigated include Igbo, American English, Russian, Thai, Korean, and Korean-accented English. She also works on post-nasal devoicing and labio-coronal fricatives in Setswana and Sebirwa (with One Boyer) and dialect variation in pitch accent in Serbian (with Draga Zec). She earned her Ph.D. in linguistics in 1993 from Yale and has been a faculty member at Georgetown since 1994.