Theoretical Orientation and Research
Linguistic theory aims to explain the nature of human language in terms of basic underlying principles. Linguists study the structure of natural languages in order to gain a better understanding of those principles.
UWM linguists conduct research in all of the core areas of linguistic theory: phonetics and phonology (the study of consonants, vowels, syllables, and the principles that govern their organization), syntax and semantics (the study of sentence structure and how it constrains meaning and interpretation), language acquisition, and language change. UWM Linguistics faculty are internationally-recognized for their scholarly contributions, and our students conduct cutting-edge research in all areas of theoretical linguistics.
We run three different laboratories here at UWM Linguistics:
- Phonetics Lab contains a sound-proof booth large enough for recording multiple speakers at once.
- Phonology Lab boasts an eye-tracker, one of only a handful on the UWM campus, that records people’s spontaneous eye movements as they listen to spoken stimuli.
- Language Acquisition Lab features an ultrasound machine that allows us to examine tongue movements during speech production, as well as top-of-the line microphones and headphones for recording and analyzing acoustic data.
During Summer 2015, all three labs received their own dedicated spaces along a single corridor in Johnston Hall, allowing faculty and students to collaborate even more closely in their work to uncover the structure of language.