College of Arts, Languages & Letters
Moore 569
1890 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-9002
Fax: (808) 956-9165


*Graduate Faculty

*A. L. Berez-Kroeker, PhD (Chair)—language documentation; language archiving; Athabascan languages; Papuan languages; geography and languages; discourse; intonation; functional
approaches to grammar
*A. Cheng, PhD–Articulatory and acoustic phonetics; sociolinguistics; language variation and change; bilingualism and heritage bilingualism; Korean; (North American) English dialectology; race and language; child language development; language and social justice.
*K. Deen, PhD—language acquisition (emphasis on experimental approaches); experimental morphosyntax; acquisition of understudied languages, particularly Bantu languages and languages of South East Asia; bilingualism; second language acquisition
*K. K. Drager, PhD—sociolinguistics; phonetics; experimental linguistics; language variation and change; language and identity
*S.M. Easterday, PhD—phonology; typology; language change; linguistic complexity; endangered and under-resourced languages
*S. Fukuda, PhD—theoretical and experimental syntax; lexical semantics; syntax-lexical semantics interface phenomena and their acquisition
*G. M. Holton, PhD—language documentation; historical linguistics; Austronesian languages; Na-Dene languages; Papuan languages, linguistic typology; archiving; language revitalization
*B. J. McDonnell, PhD—language documentation; Austronesian linguistics; syntax; phonology; corpus linguistics
*W. D. O’Grady, PhD—syntactic theory and description; experimental syntax; language acquisition; Korean and Jejueo; heritage languages; language revitalization
*A. J. Schafer, PhD—psycholinguistics; experimental linguistics; sentence comprehension and production (including Korean, Japanese, Austronesian languages, underdocumented languages, and in language learners/bilinguals); sentence prosody; information structure; psycholinguistic approaches to language documentation and conservation

Emeritus Faculty In Residence

L. R. Campbell, PhD—language documentation, historical linguistics, endangered languages and language revitalization, typology, field methods, American Indian languages
M. L. Forman, PhD—general linguistics, ethnographic linguistics, Philippine studies
A. M. Peters, PhD—language acquisition: prosody, emergence of grammatical morphemes, crosslinguistic issues

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

P. Arboleda, PhD—Philippine folklore, gender and literature, Philippine ethnolinguistic groups, translation and digital animation
H. M. Cook, PhD—Japanese linguistics; sociolinguistics; discourse analysis and pragmatics
T. Grüter, PhD—morphosyntax and semantics; developmental psycholinguistics; language processing (using eye-tracking methods); bilingualism
C. Higgins, PhD—macro- and micro-sociolinguistics, qualitative research methods, conversational analysis, code-switching
Y. Hoonchamlong, PhD—Thai linguistics (syntax, discourse, semantics), Tai/Thai dialectology, language learning and teaching, internet technology in language research and language instruction, translation
G. Kasper, PhD—languages and social interaction; socially grounded approaches to second language acquisition
C. Sak-Humphry, PhD—Khmer language, linguistics and literature
B. Schwartz, PhD—linguistics theory and second-language acquisition and analysis; Universal Grammar; child second-language acquisition
N. Silva, PhD—Hawaiian politics, indigenous politics
K. Wong, PhD—Hawaiian language and culture, immersion education

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

P. J. Donegan, PhD—phonological theory; Mon Khmer languages; Munda; natural phonology; child phonology
Y. Ostuka, DPhil—syntax; minimalist program; Tongan and Polynesian languages; Austronesian languages; endangered and underdocumented languages of Polynesia; language planning in Polynesia
H. M. Sohn, PhD (Emeritus)—Korean linguistics; grammaticalization
J. C. Woodward Jr., PhD—sign languages

Degrees Offered: BA in interdisciplinary studies (linguistics), MA in linguistics, PhD in linguistics, minor in linguistics

The Academic Program

Linguistics (LING), also called linguistic science or the science of language, is the study of how language works– how it is acquired, how it is used, how it is represented in the brain, how it changes over time, and so on. Major subfields are documentary linguistics, phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, discourse analysis, pragmatics, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics (including developmental psycholinguistics), neurolinguistics, mathematical and computational linguistics, and ethnographic linguistics

Linguistics is relevant to many endeavors, including cognitive science, language planning, language teaching, speech synthesis and recognition, treatment of language disorders, repair of communication breakdowns, and information technology. Our program presents unique opportunities for the study of Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) and Asian languages. It also has special strengths in language acquisition, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and language documentation and conservation.

Our program is recognized as being among the top fifteen in the U.S.


All faculty in the department participate in the advising of students majoring in linguistics. Undergraduates majoring in linguistics under the Interdisciplinary Studies program are advised initially by the undergraduate advisor. Graduate majors are advised by the chair of the graduate field of study or by one of the language documentation faculty. Students are later assigned to specific faculty members for advising according to their special interests.

Undergraduate Study

Bachelor’s Degree

Students may obtain a BA degree with a linguistics major at UH Mānoa through the Interdisciplinary Studies program. See In this program, with the guidance of a faculty advisor, students create for themselves a major that may combine the study of linguistics with related disciplines, such as anthropology, second language studies, or psychology, or with the study of one or more foreign languages. Students majoring in linguistics in this way may include some or all of the MA core of courses in their BA program, and are thus able to do more advanced work, should they continue with an MA.


Students are required to complete 15 credits of upper division LING courses with a grade of C (not C-) or better. Students will start with LING 320 (General Linguistics). The remaining 12 credits can come from any 300- or 400-level LING course. Students are encouraged to take one of 100-level LING courses before starting the Linguistics Minor program. For more information, contact

Graduate Study

The faculty represents a variety of theoretical viewpoints. The various faculty members are especially well qualified to direct research on languages of the Pacific and parts of Asia. Fields of special competence include descriptive and comparative linguistics, general linguistic theory, language contact and variation, ethnolinguistics, language development, experimental phonetics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and cognitive linguistics.

Students admitted to graduate programs in linguistics normally have a background in at least one foreign language. Some background in mathematics or one of the sciences may also be useful. Students entering without a course equivalent to LING 320 are required to take this course to make up for this deficiency in their preparation for graduate work.

Both the MA and the PhD degrees are offered.

The MA program provides a basic introduction to the subject matter and skills of the discipline. The PhD program provides full professional training for careers in research and teaching. Employment opportunities for graduates of both programs today often require additional knowledge of one or more related disciplines. Students are therefore encouraged to broaden their training in linguistics by including work in other disciplines. Such programs, and those that include many of the specializations listed above, will involve the inclusion of faculty members from other fields of study on students’ program committees. Students should make known their interests to the graduate chair as early as possible so that appropriate advisors can be chosen to direct students to courses, and any key prerequisite courses, that will help them explore their interests further. It is also possible for students to include concentrations in linguistics in their programs for the MA degree in Asian studies or Pacific Islands studies.

The guidelines listed below are offered to guide students in their preparation for the various examinations, although individual study must be done in areas not covered by course offerings. Courses bearing the 700-level numbers are seminars, and various sections of these seminars are typically offered in a given semester, depending on the interests of the resident faculty and students. Each semester there are normally a number of seminars dealing with geographical areas, particular language families, the structures of individual languages, and particular theoretical problems. A major portion of the work done beyond the MA level is in seminars and in directed research.

Master’s Degree


The department offers MA Plan A and Plan B programs. In addition to the university-wide residence requirements of a minimum of two semesters of full-time work, all three programs require that students demonstrate competence in one language other than their native language.

Plan A requires a thesis (9 credit hours) and a minimum of 21 credit hours of course work. A final oral examination covering the thesis and related areas is also required.

Plan B requires a minimum of 30 credit hours plus a final project near the end of course work. The required 30 hours of course work must be taken for a letter grade (not CR/NCR or Audit), of which 18 hours must be at the 600-level or above, including 3 hours of a 700-level seminar. Students may choose between three “streams”: Linguistic Analysis, Experimental Linguistics, and Language Documentation and Conservation. For all streams there is a Core List from which different numbers of courses are to be selected. For details, see our MA manual, via

Doctoral Degree


All students in the PhD program are required to complete a minimum of 33 credit hours of course and seminar work at UH Mānoa (exclusive of LING 800) beyond those counted towards the MA degree. Courses in phonology (LING 621), grammar (LING 622), and two Methods courses are required of all PhD students.

All PhD candidates must demonstrate competence in one language other than their native language.

PhD students must present two professionally written papers, pass a comprehensive examination, and pass a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation.

For details, see our PhD manual, via