Sarah Thomason

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Sally Thomason

William J. Gedney Collegiate Professor of Lingusitics

Office Location(s): 413 Lorch Hall
Phone: 734.615.2018

  • Fields of Study
    • Historical linguistics
    • Language contact
    • Pidgins and creoles
    • Native American languages
  • About

    Sarah (Sally) Thomason is the William J. Gedney Collegiate Professor of Linguistics.  Her research specialties include historical linguistics and language conact, with a focus on principles of contact-induced language change and contact language genesis (pidgins, creoles, and bilingual mixed languages).  She also specializes in Salish-Pend d'Oreille (Montana Salish) linguistics; she has spent every summer since 1981 working with elders to prepare a dictionary and text collection of the language.  In her (rare) spare time she has fun debunking linguistic pseudoscience.

    Professor Thomason teaches Historical Linguistics once a year and other courses less regularly, e.g. Language and History, Field Methods, a seminar on Salish-Pend d'Oreille Linguistics, Language Contact, a first-year seminar on Endangered Languages, and Language in a Multicultural World.  She has chaired or co-chaired five Ph.D. dissertation committees in the past six years: four on specific indigenous languages of North America (1), MesoAmerica (2), and South America (1) and one on Cantonese-English code-mixing in Hong Kong.  In the same period she has directed eight undergraduate honors thesis, on such topics as Salish-Pend d'Oreille structure and history (3 theses), multilingual discourse used by staff in a Japanese restaurant, and loanwords in Wolof.  In 2009 she was President of the Linguistic Society of America; in 2000 she was President of the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas.  She has taught at four LSA Linguistic Institutes (as the Collitz Professor at the University of Illinois Institute in 1999) and will teach a course on Language Contact at the 2013 Institute in Ann Arbor.  She was editor of the LSA's journal Language, 1988-1994, and chair of the Linguistics & Language Sciences section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1996.

  • Education
    • Ph.D., Yale University, 1968
  • Selected Publications:
  • Books
  • Articles
  • Book Chapters