Rural Appalachia seminar visiting faculty members, March 18 & 20

Raffaella Zanuttini, Ph.D. – joined on Monday by Christina Tortora, Ph.D. - will speak with the Child, Family, and Community Development in Rural Appalachia seminar about The Study of Language as a Window on the Mind:  the importance of “dialects.”

Raffaella Zanuttini received her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1991 and is currently professor of linguistics at Yale University. Her undergraduate work, Laurea in Lettere Moderne, was at the Università di Torino, Italy, Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia. Recently she has taught courses on the grammatical diversity in U.S. English, linguistics and literature; and current trends in syntax.

Her research focuses on comparative syntax. She has worked extensively on the range and limits of variation in the syntactic expression of negation, particularly across the Romance languages, as well as on the notion of clause type and its syntactic realization. 

Zanuttini has also investigated social and grammatical variations in Appalachian English. She recently created the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project, aiming to bring the enterprise of micro comparative syntax to the study of North American varieties of English.

Zanuttini will give a public presentation Variation in English: Language science vs. language prejudice at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, in Blackman Auditorium (Woods Laboratories).


Christina Tortora received her Ph.D. from the University of Delaware in 1997, and is currently professor of linguistics at the City University of New York (College of Staten IslandDepartment of English, and The Graduate CenterMA/PhD Program in Linguistics). She completed a B.A. in linguistics at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She spent the Fall of 2008 as a visiting scholar in the Department of Linguistics, University of Padua, Italy.

For many years she has worked on issues in the syntax of an understudied Northern Italian dialect, which are discussed in her forthcoming book, A comparative grammar of Borgomanerese (Oxford University Press). She has also been working on the question of speaker variation in Appalachian English, with an eye towards understanding the more general question of how speakers mentally represent semantically equivalent syntactic variants (e.g., "I seen him" and "I saw him," or likewise: "I've seen him" and "I've saw him").

She is currently creating the "Audio-Aligned and Parsed Corpus of Appalachian English" (AAPCAppE), in collaboration with Beatrice Santorini and Michael Montgomery. The AAPCAppE will be a one million-word annotated corpus of Appalachian speech, which will serve as a tool to support investigation of social and grammatical variation in Appalachian English.

Psychology 430: Child, Family, and Community Development in Rural Appalachia is a new Spring 2013 course being taught collaboratively by Sewanee- and Yale-affiliated faculty and guest speakers. It is the latest development in a growing partnership between Sewanee and the Yale Child Study Center, Yale Medical School. Among the Center faculty is Linda Mayes, M.D. … Sewanee alumna … Arnold Gesell Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology at the Yale Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine … and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Psychology at Sewanee.

For many years, Dr. Mayes has offered summer internships to Sewanee students. More recently, she initiated the Sewanee-At-Yale Directed Research Program that affords Sewanee students the opportunity to spend a semester plus a summer at the Yale Child Study Center. This new course venture will offer students the combined expertise and energy of Sewanee faculty and visiting Yale-affiliated faculty and guest speakers. In addition to leading one or more course sessions, most of the visiting faculty and guest speakers will give a more public presentation open to the general community and have the opportunity to interact with various members of the Sewanee faculty and the broader community during their time in Sewanee. Thus, the course will also help to foster community-based collaborations among Sewanee and Yale faculty, University students, and local community organizations and partners.