Among the themes of faculty members' historical linguistic interests are sound change, methods and practice in establishing language families, language contact and the relation between language change and cognitive and social factors.
Sally Thomason specializes in changes resulting from language contact; she also studies deliberate linguistic changes and (mainly from a skeptical viewpoint) proposals for long-distance relationships. Bill Baxter specializes in Chinese historical linguistics; he also has strong interests in questions of distant linguistic relationships. Pam Beddor, primarily a phonetician, investigates phonetic routes to sound change. Steve Dworkin is a historical Romance linguist, with a special emphasis on processes of lexical change. Ben Fortson specializes in Indo-European linguistics. Acrisio Pires, primarily a formal syntactician, investigates syntactic change in connection with language acquisition. Robin Queen, a sociolinguist, focuses on interactions among language contact, language ideology, and language change.
The historical linguistics group in the Department is augmented and strengthened by research on language history being carried out by other faculty in this and other departments at the university, as well as by faculty in neighboring universities.
Changes resulting from language contact; deliberate linguistic changes and (mainly from a skeptical viewpoint) proposals for long-distance relationships
Chinese historical linguistics; questions of distant linguistic relationships
Patrice Speeter Beddor
Phonetics; phonetic routes to sound change
Historical Romance linguist; lexical change