Sandra Chung

Professor of Linguistics
and Fellow of Cowell College


Research and Teaching

Problem-solving and linguistic argumentation have always appealed to me. There's something I find deeply satisfying about discovering new evidence for an analysis or bringing new evidence to bear on a theoretical claim. I also enjoy doing linguistic fieldwork. And I'm committed to the idea that lesser-studied languages have as much to contribute to syntactic theory as do languages like English, French, and Italian. These interests have shaped my research on syntactic theory and Austronesian languages. The Austronesian languages -- some 1200 languages dispersed over a large area that includes the Pacific -- form one of the world's largest language families. I began doing fieldwork on Maori, Tongan, and Samoan (all languages of the South Pacific) as an undergraduate. As a graduate student, I also did fieldwork on Indonesian. Since 1977, the main empirical focus of my research has been Chamorro, a language of the Mariana Islands. My fieldwork on Chamorro takes me regularly to Saipan. Some of the questions I've investigated: How is verb-first word order derived? What is the best way to understand ergativity? What accounts for wh-agreement -- the special morphological agreement found in questions and relative clauses in some languages, -- and what does this agreement reveal about the syntax of displacement?

I'm still thinking about the syntax-semantics of possession in Chamorro, and making progress on the Chamorro reference grammar I've been writing since 2009. I'm also collaborating with Dr. Elizabeth D. Rechebei, Manuel F. Borja, Tita A. Hocog, and many others in the CNMI on a revision of the Chamorro-English Dictionary. Finally, since 2011, Matt Wagers, Manuel F. Borja, and I have been collaborating on psycholinguistic research on Chamorro in the Mariana Islands. This research is funded by NSF (2013-16).

I teach syntax at all levels. At the undergraduate level, I also teach introductory logic, poetics, and historical linguistics. My teaching in 2016-17: Ling 226 (Syntax C) in Fall 2016, Ling 112 (Syntax One) in Winter 2017 [co-taught with Pranav Anand], and Linguistics 113 (Syntax Two) in Spring 2017. (I'll be on sabbatical in residence in Winter 2017.)

Selected Links

Utugrafihan Finu' Chamorro (the new Chamorro orthography)
Trip to Taiwan, March 2006
I Mina'dos na Konferensian Chamorro, September 2007
Winter Holidays in Berlin, 2007

Photo of Sandy awaiting her appointment at the NMI Parole Board by M. Wagers, September 2013; photos of Rota and Saipan, September 2013 and July 2009. Last updated: Aug. 2016.