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The Department of Linguistics at the University at Buffalo offers training in a broad range of sub-disciplines of linguistics. Students benefit from the faculty’s research specializations in syntax, semantics, pragmatics, phonetics, phonology, as well as language typology, psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, sociolinguistics, and historical and contact linguistics. Areas of particular strength are:

  • Syntactic theory (non-movement-based models, especially Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar, Role and Reference Grammar, Construction Grammar, and Basic Linguistic Theory);
  • Semantics, including lexical/conceptual and formal approaches, and pragmatics;
  • Field-based language documentation and description (particularly of languages of the Americas, Africa, and New Guinea);
  • Syntactic and semantic typology;
  • Psycholinguistics (including corpus-based, experimental, and computational modeling research).

The department has long championed approaches to the study of language that are data-driven and informed by diverse theoretical perspectives under a broad Cognitive Science umbrella. The origins of the department trace back to the Department of Linguistics and Anthropology, founded in 1956 under the chairmanship of Henry Lee Smith. In 1964, Linguistics became a separate program, and in 1969 it became an independent department, under David Hays.


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