The LSA Constitution, Article IV, Section 2, states:

The Nominating Committee shall nominate one person for the position of Vice President and two for each vacant position on the Executive Committee. A report from the Nominating Committee and the slate of nominees with statements from the candidates shall be sent to the members at least seven months in advance of the Annual Meeting. If six months before the Annual Meeting, ten or more members have separately and in writing nominated any additional individual member for any position, and that member agrees to be presented as a candidate for the position in question, then that name shall be added to the ballot submitted to the members. This ballot shall be sent not less than four months in advance of the Annual Meeting. A quorum shall consist of those replies which have been received by the Secretary-Treasurer two months in advance of the date of the Annual Meeting.

The Slate of Candidates for 2019 is available below.  Any additional nominations must be received, according to the procedures described above, no later than July 3, 2018.

Votes may be cast online here between September 4 and November 3, 2018.  Only current LSA members are eligible to vote.  Please log in to the LSA website prior to clicking on the voting link. 

The Nominating Committee has submitted the following slate of members to stand for election in September-November 2018:

Vice President/President-Elect:

Executive Committee (2 at-large seats):

A brief biographical summary and statement for each candidate is included below.  Note that the candidate for Vice President/President-Elect submits only a biographical statement. 

Biographical Summaries and Statements

Candidate for Vice President/President-Elect (1-year term, with two additional years on the Executive Committee as President and Past President)

Marianne Mithun (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Marianne Mithun is Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She received her doctorate from Yale, then taught at the State University of New York in Albany before joining the founding faculty of the Linguistics department at Santa Barbara. Her interests range over morphology, syntax, discourse, prosody and their interrelations; language contact, language change, and the ways in which they shape structure; typology and universals; language documentation, particularly of languages indigenous to North America and those of the Austronesian family; and language revitalization. She has received honorary doctorates from the University of Oslo (Norway) and La Trobe University (Australia) and the Médaille du Collège de France. She has been elected to the Academia Europeaea and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and served as President of the Societas Linguistica Europaea, the Association for Linguistic Typology, SSILA (the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the America), and the Society for Linguistic Anthropology. She has received NSF and NEH grants for projects on Athabaskan langauges, Barbareño Chumash (Šmuwič), Central Pomo, and Cayuga. Her volume The Languages of Native North America received the LSA Bloomfield Book Award. She has taught at the LSA Linguistic Institutes at Michigan, Stanford, Santa Barbara, Illinois, New Mexico, Georgetown, and Oswego, and given courses at the Università Roma 3, the Université de Nice, the Forschungsgemeinschaft für Mehrsprachigkeit at the University of Hamburg, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, the Typology Summer School at the University Cagliari in Sardinia, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sprachwsissenschaft Sommerschule in Düsseldorf, the Landelijke Onderzoekschool Taalwetenschap (Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics) at the University of Amsterdam, and the Australian Linguistic Institute in Melbourne. She regularly teaches courses and workshops in communities working to document and teach their traditional languages. Her cv can be found at


Candidates for 2 At-large Seats on the Executive Committee

Barbara Citko (University of Washington)

Barbara Citko is a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Washington in Seattle.  She received her PhD in Linguistics from Stony Brook University in 2000, and held teaching positions at the University of Utah, University of Connecticut and Brandeis University before joining University of Washington, where she has taught since 2005. Her research centers on syntactic theory, syntax-semantics interface and the syntax of Slavic languages.  Her published work includes two books (the 2011 Symmetry in Syntax: Merge, Move and Labels and the 2014 Phase Theory: Introduction), articles in Linguistic Inquiry, Syntax, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, Journal of Slavic Linguistics, Glossa, and in edited volumes. She an Associate Editor of the Journal of Slavic Linguistics and serves on the editorial board of Syntax.

On a theoretical level, she is interested in the properties of the basic combinatorial syntactic operations in the grammar, and how they interact. These are the core question behind her research on multidominant structures (i.e. the kinds of syntactic structures which allow a single element to occupy two positions simultaneously). Her representative publications in this area are the 2011 book Symmetry in Syntax: Merge, Move and Labels and the 2005 Linguistic Inquiry paper ‘On the Nature of Merge: External Merge, Internal Merge and Parallel Merge.’  On a more empirical level, her research contributes to our understanding of what might be called non-canonical wh-constructions, such as free relatives, across-the-board wh-questions and wh-questions with coordinated wh-pronouns. She is currently working on a book project, joint with Martina Gračanin-Yuksek of Middle East Technical University in Ankara, on the interaction between so-called Parallel Merge and Internal Merge, the two guises of Merge responsible for the creation of multidominant structures.        


I believe the LSA has the responsibility to serve its members and to ensure the well-being of the discipline for generations to come. In order to serve its current members (as well as attract new members), it is vital for the LSA to be relevant to linguists at all stages of career development; from undergraduates contemplating the viability of linguistics as a career choice to senior faculty and administrators in leadership positions grappling with staffing and funding challenges many universities face. It is also vital for the LSA to continue its efforts to represent and be an advocate for traditionally underrepresented groups, not only within linguistics but also within society at large. To ensure the well-being of the discipline, it is important for the LSA to continue its work to increase the visibility of linguistics and to educate the public about the relevance of linguistics. It is also important for the LSA to promote and model civility in scientific discourse and to maintain highest standards of scholarship. If elected to the Executive Committee of the Linguistic Society of America, these are the areas I would like to focus on.

Richard P. Meier (University of Texas at Austin)

Richard P. Meier received his B.A. in anthropology from the University of Chicago, his M.A. in anthropological linguistics from Washington University in St. Louis, and his 1982 Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of California, San Diego. After postdoctoral work in psychology at the University of Illinois and at Stanford, he joined the Department of Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin in 1986; he has been department chair since 2006 and is the Robert D. King Centennial Professor of Liberal Arts. From 1996-1999 he was Associate Vice President for Research at UT Austin. Beginning with his dissertation work at UCSD, his research has focused on the linguistics of signed languages, and on their acquisition as first languages. He is particularly interested in the question of whether and how language modality (that is, the transmission channel in which a language is produced and perceived) interacts with the structure and acquisition of language. He led efforts to bring the American Sign Language program into UT’s Department of Linguistics; that program allows students to fulfill their foreign language requirement by taking ASL. In 2005, he received the Outstanding Graduate Teaching award from UT’s Graduate School.

Meier has co-edited two books, Modality and Structure in Signed and Spoken Language (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and Text, Time, and Context: Selected Papers of Carlota S. Smith (Springer, 2009). He has published in a variety of edited volumes and in journals such as Language, Cognitive Psychology, the Journal of Memory and Language, the Journal of Communication Disorders, Phonetica, the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Sign Language Studies, and the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. He has served on the Linguistics Advisory Panel of the National Science Foundation and has chaired the LSA’s nominating committee. He was honored to be named a fellow of the LSA in 2012.


Our discipline has increasing appreciation for the diversity of human languages. For example, a fundamental achievement of linguistic research since the 1960s has been the understanding that there are two modalities available to human language; we now know that natural languages can be signed or spoken. More recently, the attention of many linguists has fixed on endangered languages and the threats that endangerment poses to the diversity of human languages. Many in our profession commit themselves to documenting those endangered languages and to assisting communities that seek to ensure the survival of their languages into the future.

It is not enough, however, for us to widen our scholarly interests to examine diversity; we must also promote ethnic and linguistic diversity within our own profession. We must welcome minority members, Deaf students, and native speakers of endangered languages; without those students and colleagues, our profession will not have a clear view of the diversity of human languages and will not achieve the broader impacts on society that it could. Therefore we must create educational environments in which students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds can thrive. The LSA can be a clearinghouse for the best practices of our membership and their departments; we can model those best practices through linguistic and ethnic diversity in our conferences, publications, and institutes.

We must also extend the reach of linguistics by further developing undergraduate research opportunities. By immersing highly-motivated students in research early in their undergraduate careers, we will make our undergraduate programs more attractive. Undergraduates who participate in research will likely interact on a daily basis with graduate students and faculty. In the process, those undergraduates come to understand what research is like in a way that is impossible in the classroom. At UT Austin we have seen a great increase in undergraduate involvement in linguistic research; this has contributed to the growth of our major and to the later success of our students in graduate school and in the workplace. Early immersion in research is also a fundamental part of graduate training. If we add elements of an apprenticeship model to our tradition of rigorous core courses, we may lower time to degree and better prepare our students for successful careers, whether in academia or industry.

The profession of linguistics must also reach out to other disciplines and departments, whether in the humanities, social sciences, brain sciences, or computer sciences. Standing as we do at the intersection of the humanities and the social sciences, we too are threatened by the cutbacks to the humanities—especially to the language departments—that are happening across the country. We can solidify linguistic teaching and research across our universities by working to build our ties with sister departments and professional societies.

Rebecca Scarborough (University of Colorado Boulder)

Rebecca Scarborough is Associate Professor of Linguistics and Fellow in the Institute of Cognitive Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. She received a BA (1999) in Linguistics and French at Stanford, and an MA (2001) and PhD (2004) in Linguistics at UCLA. She was a post-doctoral Humanities Fellow and lecturer at Stanford from 2004-2007 before assuming her current position at CU Boulder in 2007. She is currently also Associate Chair for Graduate Studies in the Linguistics Department.

Rebecca’s research uses phonetic and psycholinguistic experimental methods to investigate systematic variation in the sound properties of speech, along with the perceptual and communicative consequences of such variation. She is particularly interested in the production of neighborhood-conditioned phonetic variation, and the relationship between patterns of hyperarticulation and coarticulation. Her work also considers the relationship between neighborhood-conditioned variation and other types of phonetically similar listener-directed clear speech. She probes the question of what constitutes hyperarticulation, looking not only at hyperarticulation across contexts but also cross-linguistically to see what patterns are enhanced and how. She also has a passion for vowel nasality, with its complex acoustics, its not-yet-well-understood perceptual cues, and its cross-linguistic patterning, both coarticulatory and contrastive. In addition, she has written on foreigner directed speech, speaker adaptation, optical phonetics, infant directed speech, and phonetic imitation, and worked with such languages as French, Farsi, Lakota, and Brazilian Portuguese.


It would be an honor to have the opportunity to contribute to the work of the LSA by serving on the LSA Executive Committee. Drawing particularly on my experience as departmental Graduate Chair, I’d like to focus on two areas that I think would contribute to broadening our base, especially among students, and providing pertinent resources to our members.

  1. Encouraging broad student participation and promoting the student-focused resources provided by LSA

There is a diversity of experiences among students in Linguistics, from fellowship students in well-funded PhD programs to unfunded MA students pursuing the degree at their own cost. There are students who will earn PhDs and become stars in the academic field; students with non-academic aspirations; students who change their plans; and students who won’t pursue the next degree. In my experience, students with a traditional academic endpoint in mind think of the LSA as a useful resource, giving them opportunities to present their academic work and eventually serving as the venue for academic job interviews. However, non-PhD students or students following less directly academic paths often tend to be less involved with the LSA. I believe, however, that all students of linguistics could and should find support in the LSA. The Society already has active committees and special interest groups focused on student interests and concerns, linguistics outside academia, etc., as well as outreach and networking resources applicable to any linguist. We can leverage these resources and ensure that we are effectively serving our full base.

I would be interested to support initiatives that reach out to all students and show them the role that they can play in the LSA and the role that the LSA can play for them. For instance, I would advocate for more active communication with Directors of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies to solicit their help in disseminating information about the LSA and highlighting the resources it provides to students and other members. Further initiatives such as providing new graduate students with memberships, encouraging departments to sponsor student memberships, or inspiring deeper involvement from non-member students would also contribute to the goal of promoting broader participation in the LSA and supporting student linguists at all levels and across a range of experiences and plans. If students can better see the work of the LSA, they can derive greater benefit from the society, and they are more likely to find value in continuing their participation and membership.

       2. Articulating what we do, the skills we have as linguists, and why they’re important

All of us are called upon to talk with non-linguists and the public about linguistics and what linguists do. The LSA’s recognition of the importance of such outreach is underscored e.g., by the plenary of past President John Rickford, as well as by the existence of various committees and working groups on Public Relations, Public Policy, etc. Indeed, the LSA and its members have contributed to a number of public conversations relating to language and human diversity. But the ability to articulate the substance and the value of linguistics has other crucial practical applications as well. Given the diversity of post-graduation experiences students in Linguistics will have, our members are also called upon to talk outside the discipline for instance to potential employers. Of course our subject matter is important. Linguistics inherently focuses on language and its intersection with all other aspects of our communal lives – technology, social interaction, argumentation, marginalized communities, just to name a few. But the strengths of a linguist extend beyond expertise in our subject matter. Our enterprise, in combing scientific methodologies with humanistic observation, entails the development of broadly applicable skills like critical thinking, attention to detail, collaboration, and excellent oral and written communication (which we study, as well as practice).

I would be interested to support initiatives that would provide resources (perhaps even talking points) for those who engage in conversations about linguistics as a discipline with non-linguists (employers, university administrators, funding agencies). Such resources should complement the existing resources for public outreach. An addition to the LSA’s very useful series of FAQ pamphlets entitled, e.g., “What can a linguist do for you?” could be helpful to a variety of LSA members, from those talking about the discipline to those teaching the discipline. A focus on the value of linguistics and linguistic skills could even serve to help promote the field, for instance among undergraduates who want assurance that they are embarking on something valuable and useful.

Arthur K. Spears (City University of New York)

Arthur Spears (CV) is Presidential Professor Emeritus (Linguistics and Anthropology) at The City University of New York (CUNY). He was in Linguistics and Anthropology at The Graduate Center and Anthropology at The City College, where he served as chair for many years and was also Director of Black Studies.

He received a Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of California, San Diego. From Northwestern University, he received an M.A. in Linguistics; and, from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, he received an M.A. with Distinction in International Relations. He earned a B.A. with a triple major in French (Honors), Spanish, and Political Science from the University of Kansas.

Spears’ research spans linguistic anthropology and sociolinguistics; pidgins/creoles and language contact; grammatical analysis; race and ethnicity; education; and ideology (primarily racial, secondarily linguistic). The languages he specializes in are African American English and Haitian Creole.

Prof. Spears is the founder and first editor of Transforming Anthropology, the journal of the Association of Black Anthropologists (ABA), a unit of the American Anthropological Association; and, he served as the ABA’s general editor for two terms. He was the President (2007-2009) and served on several committees of the Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics. He has been a lifetime member of the Linguistic Society of America since 1998 and a member for over four decades.  He has served as both member and chair (2016-2018) of the LSA’s Committee on Ethnic Diversity in Linguistics (CEDL) and dedicated book royalties, with co-editor, Marianna Di Paolo, to help fund CEDL Travel Awards to LSA meetings.

Among Prof. Spears’s books and journal special issue are Languages and Dialects in the U.S.:Focus on Diversity and Linguistics (co-editor, 2014); The Haitian Creole Language: History, Structure, Use, and Education (co-editor, 2010); Language, Inequality, and Endangerment: African Americans and Native Americans (editor, special issue of Transforming Anthropology, 2010); The Structure and Status of Pidgins and Creoles (co-editor, 1997); Race and Ideology: Language, Symbolism, and Popular Culture (editor, 1999); and Black Linguistics: Language, Society, and Politics in Africa and the Americas (co-editor, 2003). Among the journals in which his publications have appeared are Language, Language in Society, Journal of Pidgin and Creole Linguistics, Transforming Anthropology, American Speech, Études Créoles, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, and the Anthropology and Education Quarterly.

Professor Spears has served on the editorial boards of leading journals and the Creole Language Library of John Benjamins Publishing Co. He has served also as legal expert in federal and other court cases involving race, speech analysis, and the use of controversial words and symbolism.

Believing in the importance of disseminating scholarship, he has presented information connected with his areas of specialization through media appearances: the British Broadcasting Corporation (“The Story of English”), Réseau France Outre-Mer (Groupe France Télévisions), Black Entertainment Television, Gil Noble’s current events talk show on ABC, National Public Radio, WBAI, and Inner City Broadcasting’s WLIB, among other media organizations. He is an associate Producer of the 2017 documentary  “Talking Black in America: The Story of African American Language” (Walt Wolfram, Executive Producer).

COMMENTS. Whenever I scan my bio, I marvel at how little it tells about me, and more generally, African Americans and other scholars of color in the academy. Perhaps in a few paragraphs I can inject some texture and nuance into my bio. I am vitally concerned with issues related to promoting inclusion and excellence (diversity) of all kinds in higher education. I also see diversity as including those with disabilities. I was autistic in childhood and might well have been assigned to the contemporary equivalent of special education had not most of the teachers and principals known my parents.  

I am keenly aware of my status as an AAE native speaker and someone who is also culturally African American. The main reason I have not pursued qualitative (Labovian) social linguistics is that it would not allow me an important use of my native speaker knowledge for grammatical description or grammatical analyses in search of the “genius”  of the language (Sapir’s notion), its pervasive plan and unique design. (I draw from Anthony Woodbury’s Hale Lecture at the 2015 Linguistics Summer Institute.)

Some remarks on my AAE research will allow me to elaborate what I am getting at.  Using verbal systems and tense-mood-aspect as my hermeneutic entry point, I have been able to access the deeper level of grammatical description where grammatically camouflaged forms lie. These are forms in AAE, originating in language contact and dominance relations, that appear to be the same as ones in other English varieties but are different. As I have discovered more of these forms, they have revealed a secondary grammar consisting of almost all optional morphemes and constructions that hardly interact grammatically with the primary English grammar—to state it this way. Through my analyses of the language use of AAE speakers, I have found that the secondary grammar, the bulk perhaps of the genius of AAE, facilitates African Americans’ expressing our own culture and finding comfort and enlightenment in our ways of speaking. Additionally, the secondary grammar has many grammaticalizations of strands of the discourse routines, stances, ideologies, and emotions that go into forming African American culture. The secondary grammar allows one to see grammar supporting culture and vice-versa. Finally, I note that the secondary grammar reveals a treasure of items highly useful in detailing AAE history, particularly its relationship to Western Hemisphere creole languages. While I do not imply that this kind of research and the results mentioned can in principle be done uniquely by native speakers, I have concluded that native-speaker status greatly facilitates it.


I have found practically all of the recommendations and suggestions in candidate statements over the years quite reasonable, meriting follow-up. The crucial issue is that there are so many valuable initiatives and improvements that the LSA might pursue. The key is prioritizing and doing so while taking into full account the demands of the times. Thus, I discuss here issues that I deem priorities, but I also forefront those that I am passionate about, with some being both.

First, I believe that the LSA should intensify its efforts toward greater inclusion and diversity. In other words, we should not simply pursue more inclusion but inclusion giving full consideration to the diversity of groups that we would like to prioritize in our efforts. These groups include ones based on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, gender, and sexuality, among the ones most often mentioned, but also those based on ability, as I briefly mentioned in my bio in connection to autism.

Clearly, increasing diversity and the pool of native-speaker linguists who work on their own language varieties, sometimes little described or undescribed, would aid the cause of language preservation, documentation, and revitalization while simultaneously nourishing our theories and methodologies.

Current attacks on higher education and ongoing cuts in funding make public awareness initiatives obligatory for linguistics. Public awareness includes advocacy and information dissemination for medical, legal, and educational practitioners among others.  One of the most important insights I have gained from legal work is that we often know more than we think we do. In the past, I have resisted requests from lawyers, for example, until they explained to me, after examining my vita, exactly how I could assist them. Although the LSA and sister societies have member databases for answering requests for linguistic expertise, there are much more sophisticated ways of matching linguists with public needs. The LSA could spearhead the refinement of current abilities in this regard.

Related to public awareness efforts and getting out the message of linguistics’ importance, it is important that all linguists be able to speak knowledgeably about key language issues that often bear on public policy. I believe the LSA should encourage re-evaluations of department core curriculums. One re-evaluation—and change—that I have in mind is requiring a basic literacy of all linguistics graduate students in areas connected to language and the public interest and policy. One area involves requiring courses outside the grammar subfields (“core linguistics”)—phonetics, phonology, syntax, etc.—especially ones dealing with stigmatized language varieties such as AAE, creoles, sign language, and many varieties of low-income and marginalized groups. I have heard many second- and third-year graduate students and even linguistics professors make uninformed comments about these languages. If departments have core courses, they should include teaching the basics of language in relation to society, culture, and mind. Departments might also consider offering courses in the grammar subfields that integrate social, cultural, and psychological material.