Department of Linguistics


The Economist highlights work of USM Professor in Nicaragua

USM Linguistics Professor Judy Shepard-Kegl's work with deaf children in Nicaragua was highlighted in the current edition of The Economist magazine. The feature story, titled "Signs and Wonders," described her discovery of a new language created by deaf children at a school in Managua.

Welcome two new linguists - Dr. Jeanne Heil and Dr. Sandra Wood!

We are delighted to welcome two new linguists to our faculty: Dr. Jeanne Heil and Dr. Sandra Wood. Both are syntacticians. Jeanne's primary area of research is second language acquisition and biligualism. Sandra's primary area of research is sign language syntactic structure and home sign systems.
Provost Jeannine Diddle Uzzi

USM language courses moving to linguistics department

Part-time faculty teaching courses in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish will be joining the Department of Linguistics, effective July 1.

Congratulations and thanks to Wayne Cowart!

Dr. Wayne Cowart is retiring this year after 28 years at USM. His contribution to USM’s linguistics program throughout that time is invaluable; in fact, we consider him to be its founder. In 1991 Wayne established the Language Sciences Laboratory, and from there developed the foundation for the ASL/English Interpreting program.


On April 22nd a local chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) was created at USM. NSSLHA is the national organization for graduate and undergraduate students interested in the study of typical and disordered human communication. NSSLHA has approximately 13,000 members at over 300 colleges and universities.

ASL Club wins Maine Campus Compact Award

President Cummings has chosen USM’s American Sign Language Club to receive the President’s Campus Leadership Award from Maine Campus Compact.

Two students present at conference

Two Linguistics majors, Jessica Bowers and Jazmyn Sylvester-Cross, each presented their work at the Southern California Undergraduate Linguistics conference on April 2. Bowers: "Pronoun Reinforcement: The Manipulation of Attraction Agreement Errors," Sylvester-Cross: "Long Distance Wh-movement Structures in Germanic Languages: An Account Based on Case Marking and Language Production Pressures."

McDaniel and Sylvester-Cross will present at conference in Iceland

Professor Dana McDaniel and Jazmyn Sylvester-Cross (student co-author) will present a poster at the 22nd Germanic Linguistics Annual Conference, which will be held in Reykjavik, May 20-22, 2016: "Wh-extraction possibilities in Germanic: The role of the language production system."

Earn a Linguistics Degree and a Law Degree with 3+3 Option

A new partnership with the Law School and USM allows for students to earn a bachelors and a Law degree. FMI see here:

Linguistics student awarded a UROP fellowship for 2015/16

Jazmyn Sylvester-Cross, a junior majoring in Linguistics, has been awarded a 2015/16 UROP fellowship for her project, How language production pressures affect wh-question structures: A cross-linguistic study. Her mentor is Professor Dana McDaniel.