Clifton L. Pye

Social and Behavioral Sciences - Linguistics
Associate Professor
Primary office:
Blake Hall, 424
University of Kansas
1541 Lilac Lane
Lawrence, KS 66045-3129


Teaching Interests

  • Language Acquisition
  • Learnability
  • Bilingual/Bidialectal Acquisition
  • Syntax
  • Semantics
  • Morphology
  • Language Universals and Language Typology
  • Language Loss, Ethnography of Communication
  • Language and Culture
  • Mayan Languages
  • Mesoamerican Languages
  • Mesoamerican Hieroglyphics
  • Athabaskan Languages
  • Computational Linguistics
  • Introduction to Linguistics. Culture and Infancy
  • Culture and Cognition
  • The Development of Social Interaction
  • Symbolic Anthropology
  • Cultures of Mesoamerica
  • Introduction to Cultural Anthropology.


I am committed to recording and analyzing the acquisition of language and culture in Native American societies. Such studies are critical because: 1) these languages contain a wealth of unusual grammatical features which provide unique opportunities for evaluating theories of language acquisition and synchronic grammar, 2) the different conceptualizations of infants and infant care in these societies may have profound implications for theories of social and cognitive development, 3) the possibility for conducting such studies is receding quickly as these societies become westernized, 4) the results provide these societies with information that is vital to language maintenance projects and cultural identity.

More generally I am interested in all aspects of first language acquisition: phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, discourse, and socio-cultural aspects of language use. The cross-linguistic study of language acquisition provides especially rich data on the interaction of universal cognitive/semantic categories and processes with language-specific structures, e.g. phonological categories, morphosyntactic rules, and verb-argument structure. I am also interested in developing valid methodological procedures for assessing children's linguistic competence in diverse languages as well as procedures for analyzing language data on the computer.

Selected Publications

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