Professor Teresa Satterfield is a psycholinguist at the University of Michigan. She has  a broad background in language development in bilingual children. Satterfield's 1995 dissertation (University of Iowa) put forth a bilingual parameter-setting, based on the generative syntactic theory and computational models of the time. Extensions of the computational model include an exploration of historical creole language development in children and other language contact scenarios, such as US Spanish with strong phonological and syntactic features of African American English. Her research today continues to explore bilingual children's emerging morphosyntactic knowledge, with ongoing collaborations with scholars in cognitive neuroscience. This research involves neuroimaging and brings to light new findings on underlying bilingual neural ‘differences’ in linguistic capacities as well as language processing operations, even while corresponding traditional behavioral tasks indicate that monolingual and bilingual children have similar outcomes. Satterfield is also the founder, director, and curriculum developer of the Spanish-immersion Saturday literacy program “En Nuestra Lengua (ENL)” for Spanish heritage language students, which began in 2010. The Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL-Washington, DC) recognized ENL as a model program for national replication.

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? 

Eek, in the 20th century, the late 90's! 

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

I've attended many annual meetings and Summer Institutes. Last year, I was part of an ad hoc group led by Jeff Good that put together the webinar series on "Centering Linguistic Diversity and Justice in Course Design."  Currently, I'm a member of the LSA Program Committee (PC). This year I'm the Senior co-chair along with Ruth Kramer.

What are you currently researching/working on?

Several projects: Continued work in collaboration with cognitive neuropsychologists  investigating morphosyntactic development in bilingual children. Ongoing work on US Afro-Spanish: the rise of Spanish in the US with AAE features (with a nod to my "The Language of Reggaetón" course). 

What is your personal favorite linguistic article or study? 

All works by Profesora Henrietta J. Cedergren!

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the field of linguistics today?  

Well, of course, the convergence of social justice movements and the COVID pandemic has impacted all aspects of language use and linguistic research: inequities in resources and information, language development, languages in contact, new technologies – In response, we are often building the boats as we sail them– it's a revolutionary moment in time.  

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

There are more underrepresented linguists across all fields-still not enough, but there is progress–and we are changing the narratives and bringing previously unrecognized facts to light that are disrupting established paradigms and practices– this is how linguistics and all science advances. When I was a graduate student, theoretical syntactic work on codeswitching was emerging, but formal syntactic questions on bilingualism were really outliers. A so-called 'universal' theory of language acquisition literally excluded more than 50% of the world's population--mostly people of color--we were invisible!  I felt compelled then, and I'm still committed to do this work and to bring in all voices.

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

From my time on the PC, I've gained a new appreciation for the many outlets that LSA provides for member engagement--professional development, mentoring, continuing education, the journal Language, special interest groups...! Engagement is the glue for all interactions and collaborations. I'm especially encouraged by LSA's advocacy efforts and outward-facing statements on Racial Justice, the Native American Community, Xenophobia, and DACA. To the field: LSA's networks with private industry, museums, elementary and secondary educators are vital and provide so many opportunities to learn about linguistics on so many different levels. We still need to do a better job of including smaller or less resourced linguistic programs, particularly linguists from HBCUs and HSIs in  LSA governance and committee responsibilities.

Is there anything else you'd like to say to the LSA membership as a whole?

Consider putting your name forward for the LSA Program Committee or nominating a linguist-colleague (including a graduate student)!