Hispanic Linguistics


Our Hispanic linguistics program offers many benefits to prospective and current students.  Our unique placement within the Department of Linguistics enables us to offer the best of both worlds: we provide specialized training in Hispanic linguistics while also taking advantage of the wonderful resources in Second Language Acquisition and Sociolinguistics within our very own Department. Additionally, we specifically cap our incoming classes in Hispanic Linguistics; these small classes enable us to provide a great deal of individualized attention and feedback to all of our graduate students.   We also offer the benefit of strong links within the larger university and other universities in Pittsburgh, as we work closely with Pitt’s Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures and with Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Modern Languages.  We are also fortunate to be located in a vibrant city that now regularly lands on lists of the most desirable places to live.

Financial support

All students we admit into our Hispanic Lingustics graduate program are offered a TAship for five years which includes full tuition remission, a stipend, and health insurance.  The department also has funds for research and conference travel.  Additionally, funds are available through the Center for Latin American Studies and the European Studies Center, which provide a wide range of support for graduate students, including fellowships, conference travel grants, and grants for field research.


Our active research topics in Hispanic Linguistics include:

     Prosody and intonation

          Spanish, Catalan, English

          Description of less-studied varieties

     L1/L2 acquisition of:



          Morphosyntactic variation

     Acquisition in the study abroad context

     Native-speaker morphosyntactic variation

     Intersection of second language acquisition and sociolinguistic variation

     Cross-language speech perception

Our students and faculty in Hispanic linguistics regularly present at top conferences in our field, including the Hispanic Linguistics Symposium (HLS), the Second Language Research Forum (SLRF), the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL), New Ways of Analyzing Variation (NWAV), the International Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics (WSS), etc.

Students earning their degree in the University of Pittsburgh Hispanic linguistics program will have an MA or PhD in linguistics, with a specialization in Hispanic linguistics. For those entering the academic job market, the degree will give them the option of joining either Spanish departments or general linguistics departments.

Our department also offers a popular colloquium series every other week, in which current students, faculty, and invited guest lecturers present original empirical research and field questions and comments from our audience.

Outstanding library resources are available in the Hillman Library, which has an especially strong collection in the Latin American area. Students should visit the Eduardo Lozano Latin American collection.

Second Language Acquisition

Language processing and working memory 

People in Second Language Acquisition:

Associate Professor
Teaching Professor
Professor of foreign language education, linguistics, and French
Professor of psychology and linguistics
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
Assistant Professor


Multilingualism is the use of two or more languages, either by an individual speaker or by a community of speakers. It is believed that multilingual speakers outnumber monolingual speakers in the world's population. More than half of all Europeans claim to speak at least one other language in addition to their mother tongue. Multilingualism is becoming a social phenomenon governed by the needs of globalization and cultural openness. Owing to the ease of access to information facilitated by the Internet, individuals' exposure to multiple languages is becoming increasingly frequent, thereby promoting a need to acquire additional languages. People who speak several languages are also called polyglots.

People in Bilingualism:

Assistant Professor
Associate Professor
Associate Professor
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Prosody & Intonation

In linguistics, intonation is variation of spoken pitch that is not used to distinguish words; instead it is used for a range of functions such as indicating the attitudes and emotions of the speaker, signalling the difference between statements and questions, and between different types of questions, focusing attention on important elements of the spoken message and also helping to regulate conversational interaction. It contrasts with tone, in which pitch variation in some languages distinguishes words, either lexically or grammatically. 

People in Prosody & Intonation:

Assistant Professor
Associate Professor
Professor of philosophy, Carnegie Mellon University

Language Variation & Change

Our faculty and students study the social uses and evaluation of language in its many formulations. Our research focuses on how language varies and changes by social factors such as gender, ethnicity, geography, religious affiliation, age, socioeconomic factors, etc. We embrace the intrinsic value of language as variable, continous, and quantifiable.

People in Language Variation & Change:

Associate Professor
Associate Professor
Quechua Instructor, Quechua Program Coordinator, Quechua Minor Advisor, PhD Candidate in Linguistics
Mellon Fellow
Associate Professor, English Education and Language, Literacy and Culture
Assistant Professor