Misha Becker (Department Chair)

mbecker (at) email.unc.edu
Office: 301 Smith Building

Ph.D. 2000, University of California, Los Angeles

Misha Becker’s main area of interest is first language acquisition, in particular the acquisition of syntax in children. Her research deals mainly with the development of functional structure (e.g. inflection and finiteness) in child grammar, and children’s use of argument structure in learning the meanings of abstract verbs and adjectives. She has recently begun to work on the acquisition of endangered languages and the process of language revitalization, in particular regarding Eastern Cherokee, a severely endangered language spoken in western North Carolina. Her other interests include cognitive development (including emotion cognition and emotion vocabulary), learnability theory, and computational models of language acquisition.

David Mora-Marín (Summer School Administrator, Interim DUS Fall 2018, OUR Liaison)

davidmm (at) unc.edu
Office: 307 Smith Building

Ph.D. 2001, State University of New York at Albany

David Mora-Marín is an Associate Professor in Linguistics, and is affiliated with the Duke-UNC Consortium for Latin American Studies, the Archaeology Curriculum, and the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program. He specializes in historical linguistics and philology of Mesoamerican languages. His interests include: the decipherment, linguistic structure, and historical development of Mayan texts; the identification of the linguistic varieties that were used in Classic Mayan texts (CE 200-900); the nature of Mayan orthographic conventions; the earliest Mesoamerican writing systems (Olmec, Zapotec, Epi-Olmec, Mayan); the historical reconstruction of the Greater Tzeltala/Ch’olan-Tzeltalan branch of the Mayan language family; the historical reconstruction of possession morphology and morphosyntax in the Mayan language family; the historical sociolinguistics of ancient Mayan writing; and the social and cultural context of literacy.

Elliott Moreton (Director of Graduate Studies and Admissions)

moreton (at) email.unc.edu
Office: 101 Smith Building

Ph.D. 2002, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Why are some phonological patterns much more frequent than others? Two main factors have been proposed as explanations: Either learners are more receptive to some patterns than others, or subtle phonetic asymmetries systematically skew the errors made in inter-generational transmission. Elliott Moreton’s research focuses on these factors and their interaction in shaping phonological typology.

Katya Pertsova (Director of Undergraduate Studies and Honors Advisor)

pertsova (at) email.unc.edu
Office: 308 Smith Building

Ph.D. 2007, University of California, Los Angeles

Katya Pertsova’s research lies at the intersection of theoretical linguistics, computational modeling and psycholinguistics. In particular, she is interested in questions related to computational models of learning morphology, complexity metrics of linguistic patterns, lexical storage and organization, and language evolution.

Paul Roberge

ptr (at) email.unc.edu
Office: 441 Dey Hall

Ph.D. 1980, University of Michigan

Paul Roberge’s areas of specialization are pidgins and creoles, historical linguistics, and Germanic languages. His current research involves creole formation at the Cape of Good Hope, comparative Germanic grammar, and the evolution of human language.

Jennifer Smith (Associate Chair)

jlsmith (at) email.unc.edu
Office: 309 Smith Building

Ph.D. 2002, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Jennifer Smith specializes in phonological theory and the phonology of Japanese and other East Asian languages. Broadly speaking, she is interested in the nature and structure of phonological constraints. Specific projects include positional constraints, syllable structure and sonority, loanword phonology, phonological differences between words of different lexical categories, and intonational phonology in the Fukuoka dialect of Japanese.

J. Michael Terry (Diversity Liaison)

terryjm (at) email.unc.edu
Office: 303 Smith Building

Ph.D. 2003, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Michael Terry’s principal area of interest is natural language semantics. His current research involves investigating the formal semantic properties of Tense and Aspect in African-American English. His other areas of interest include negation, and definiteness and specificity.


Brian Hsu

hsub (at) email.unc.edu
Office: 105 Smith Building

Ph.D. 2016, University of Southern California

Brian Hsu specializes in syntax. His research aims to develop a deeper understanding of the relationships between modules of the language faculty, with a focus on the formalization of the interfaces between phonology, syntax, and morphology.


Julie St. John

stjohn (at) email.unc.edu

Ph.D. 2004, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Masako Hirotani

masako_hirotani (at) carleton.ca, hirotani (at) email.unc.edu
School of Linguistics and Language Studies, Carleton University

Ph.D. 2005, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Mako Hirotani is associate professor of linguistics at Carleton University and adjunct associate professor of linguistics at UNC-CH. Her primary fields of expertise are psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, and neurocognition of language.

Benjamin E. Frey

benfrey (at) email.unc.edu
Office: 215 Greenlaw Hall

Ph.D. 2013, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Ben Frey is assistant professor of American studies and adjunct assistant professor of linguistics. His primary areas of expertise are Cherokee linguistics, the German language in America, and German and Dutch linguistics.

Becky Butler

becky.butler (at) unc.edu
Office: SASB North 0127

Ph.D. 2014, Cornell University

Becky Butler is ESL specialist in the Writing Center and adjunct assistant professor of linguistics.  Her primary areas of expertise are English as a second language, Southeast Asian languages, theoretical phonology and phonetics.


H. Craig Melchert

melchert (at) humnet.ucla.edu

Ph.D. 1977, Harvard University

Craig Melchert is emeritus professor of Indo-European studies and linguistics at UCLA and also emeritus professor of linguistics at UNC-CH.  His area of expertise is Indo-European linguistics, with particular focus on the Anatolian branch.



Jennifer Arnold (Psychology and Neuroscience), psychology and psycholinguistics
Uffe Bergeton (Asian Studies), early Chinese language, history, and thought
Lucia Binotti (Romance Studies), Spanish philology, cultural thought, linguistic historiography
Bruno Estigarribia (Romance Studies), Spanish linguistics, language development and cognition
Nina Furry (Romance Studies), French linguistics, French language pedagogy
Peter C. Gordon (Psychology and Neuroscience), psychology of language
Lamar Graham (Romance Studies), Spanish linguistics
Thomas  Hofweber (Philosophy), philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, metaphysics
Joseph Lam (Religious Studies), Hebrew and Semitic Languages, writing in the Ancient Near East
Wendan Li (Asian Studies), Chinese linguistics (discourse analysis), Chinese language pedagogy
Patrick O’Neill (English and Comparative Literature), languages & literatures of Britain and Ireland, especially during the medieval period
Martha Ruiz-Garcia (Romance Studies), Spanish linguistics
Gillian Russell (Philosophy), philosophy of language and logic, epistemology
Patricia E. Sawin (American Studies), ethnography of communication
Khalid Shahu (Asian Studies), Arabic and Hispanic Luso-Brazilian languages and cultures