Sharon Inkelas is Professor of Linguistics at UC Berkeley. She received her BA in Mathematics from Pomona College in 1984 and her PhD in Linguistics from Stanford University in 1989. Inkelas taught at UCLA (1989) and at the University of Maryland (1989-1990) and was a Research Fellow at the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science (1990-1992) before assuming her current position at UC Berkeley in 1992. Currently she is Professor in the Department of Linguistics and serves in an administrative role as Special Faculty Advisor to the Chancellor on Sexual Violence/Sexual Harassment.

Inkelas is a phonologist whose research has long focused on the phonology-morphology interface. Her 2005 book Reduplication: Doubling in Morphology (Cambridge University Press), co-authored with Cheryl Zoll, offers a cross-linguistic overview and a new theoretical model of reduplication. Her 2014 book, The Interplay of Morphology and Phonology (Oxford University Press), develops an integrated overview of a wide range of topics, arguing that phenomena often studied in separate silos (e.g. process morphology and cyclic phonology) offer crucial insights into one another. In the last decade, Inkelas has branched out into child phonology. 

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? 

1985, as a first-year graduate student at Stanford

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

I've served on the Program Committee a couple times (once as chair), and once on the Nominating Committee; I've taught at seven summer institutes (OSU, UCSB, MIT/Harvard, Chicago, Kentucky, Berkeley) and presented at lots of LSA annual meetings since 1986. This is my second year on the Executive Committee.

What are you currently researching/working on?

I'm working on several exciting new topics - internal subdivisions of phonological segments ('Q' theory), child-specific phonological patterns, even a project on Pokémon names with a number of collaborators - but for the next three years the primary focus of my workday will be in my new capacity as Special Faculty Advisor to the Chancellor on Sexual Violence/Sexual Harassment at UC Berkeley. Our campus leadership believes strongly that for the academic mission of any university to succeed, students, staff and faculty need to feel confident and secure in their dignity as human beings. That requires building a community that is as free as possible from the impact of sexual harassment, sexual violence, and gender bias. It's a huge challenge, but one I'm looking forward to being part of.

What is your personal favorite linguistic article or study?

What got me into linguistics in the first place was reading Brent Berlin and Paul Kay's 1969 book, Basic Color Terms. Thinking over my own work, I would say I have two favorite articles: one each on the phonological development of my two children.* 

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

That's hard. The LSA provides so many essential services to its members! One key internal service is community bonding. Through the annual meetings, the messages to membership and the journal Language, the LSA provides shared physical and virtual space for members to feel part of a community that cares about its mission. The LSA also serves a critical external role, getting the message out to funding agencies and the popular press about the importance of our work as linguists.  In recent years the LSA has also been especially active about taking public positions on important issues of human rights related to language, communities of speakers, and the work linguists do. I'm really glad to be part of a society that speaks for me on these issues.

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

Get all your colleagues to renew their memberships!

* “J’s rhymes: a longitudinal case study of language play.” Journal of Child Language 30, 557-581. 2003; and “Positional neutralization: a case study in child language”, with Yvan Rose. Language 83:707-736. 2007.