Current Research Projects

Faculty and students in the Department of Linguistic engage in research on a broad range of linguistic topics and languages. Much of this research is made possible by our extensive laboratory facilities, as well as other resources available on and off campus. Students and occasionally faculty members and visiting scholars as well publish ongoing work in our Working Papers in Linguistics. Below are descriptions of some long-term, ongoing, collaborative research projects in the department.


    • Research and resources on Austroasiatic languages – Munda languages of South Asia and Mon-Khmer, Aslian, and Nicobarese languages of South-East Asia – are at the Austroasiatic web site maintained by David Stampe (stampe at hawaii dot edu), and Patricia J. Donegan (donegan at hawaii dot edu).
      Our research on Austroasiatic, and particularly Munda, has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, and the American Institute for Indian Studies.


    • The Austronesian Comparative Dictionary was funded by the National Science Foundation from 1990-1995, and provided support for three graduate students. Slightly over 2,000 pages of analyzed (but not fully edited) comparative lexical and morphological data were collected during this time. This material represents more than 5,100 proposed cognate sets, including base morphemes, and reconstructable affixed, reduplicated and compounded words. Material is drawn from over 200 languages. Work continues on this project. Even in its current, incomplete form, it probably is the largest comparative dictionary in existence. Principal Investigator:Bob Blust, at blust at hawaii dot edu.



  • The SPOT language-production game-task is a collaborative research project involving researchers in New Zealand and the USA. The project is an investigation of how naive speakers use prosody (speech intonation and rhythm) to clarify the meaning of sentences, and how listeners make use of these cues to recover the intended meaning. The game task allows speakers to produce a range of linguistically interesting sentences in a quasi-spontaneous fashion (instead of reading them aloud, for example). The task also allows manipulation of the likelihood of one sentence interpretation vs. another, for example for investigations of whether players increase their use of prosodic cues in ambiguous situations and decrease them in unambiguous situations. Used in conjunction with head-mounted eyetracking , the task allows assessment of the incremental use of prosodic information during sentence comprehension. Local lead investigator: Amy Schafer,aschafer at hawaii dot edu.