Sandra Chung is Distinguished Professor Emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She received the Ph.D. in Linguistics from Harvard in 1976. After teaching for eleven years at UC San Diego, she moved to UC Santa Cruz, where she taught until 2017. Her research examines issues in theoretical syntax through the empirical lens of Chamorro and some other Austronesian languages. She has also done collaborative work in semantics (with William A. Ladusaw) and psycholinguistics (with Matthew Wagers and Manuel F. Borja).

The LSA Member Spotlight highlights the interests and accomplishments of a different LSA member each month. Click here to see previous Member Spotlights.

When did you first join the LSA?

In 1973. An article I wanted to read had just been published in Language, and the easiest way to get a copy was to become an LSA member.

How have you been involved with the LSA since you joined?

I’ve been an Associate Editor of Language and a member of the Executive Committee. I taught at two LSA Summer Institutes. I was President of the LSA in 2011. Now I’m in my second term as the LSA’s delegate to the ACLS.

What are you currently researching/working on?

I’ve been working on two long-term documentation projects. One is a reference grammar of Chamorro, which is now two-thirds complete. The other is a community-based revision of the Chamorro-English dictionary, for which I’m the consulting linguist. At the more theoretical end, I’ve started to look at the syntax and semantics of sentential complementation in Chamorro. And I’m continuing to collaborate with Matt Wagers and Manny Borja on experimental psycholinguistics work in the Northern Mariana Islands.

How has the field of linguistics changed since you first started your work?

Then the primary focus was on theoretical linguistics. Now there are many more methodologies available for investigating language, and the range of questions that can be addressed is much broader. I think this is really exciting. The challenge is to achieve the right balance between theoretical and empirical work.

What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing a career in linguistics?

What Chris Kennedy said in his Member Spotlight: “Embrace your ignorance.”

What, in your opinion, is the most important service the LSA provides to its members? To the field?

The Annual Meeting provides a great way for members to hear about current research and see old friends. The publications—Language, the other journals, the archived conference proceedings, and Semantics Archive—serve an important function for the field. It would be wonderful if the LSA could expand its range of open-access e-publications even further.