Suzanne Kemmer
suzanne at glastonbury abbey

Glastonbury Abbey, August 1998

Associate Professor of Linguistics
Rice University

Director of Cognitive Sciences
Advising coordinator, Linguistics
Resident Associate, Duncan College
Divisional Adviser, Social Sciences, Duncan College

Office Herring Hall 209
Office phone (713) 348-6225, 348-7106
Email kemmer AT

Mailing address
Department of Linguistics, MS 23
Rice University
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77251-1892

Recent courses

Ling 320 Origins and Evolution of Human Language (Spring 2012)
Ling 416: Language Universals and Typology (Spring 2012)
Ling/Engl 215, Words in English (Fall 2011)
FSEM/Ling 138, Writing: Origin and Evolution (Fall 2011)


Cognitive Linguistics, Language Universals and Typology, Semantics/Pragmatics, Language Change, Germanic languages, Nilo-Saharan Languages, African Languages, Austronesian languages


International Cognitive Linguistics Association

The ICLA website has been based at Rice University since 2003. Martin Hilpert (now at the University of Freiburg) is the Web Editor, and I am the Webmaster.

See the ICLA site for information on events, governance, and other ICLA matters.


The 6th Conceptual Structure, Discourse and Language Conference (CSDL 6) was held at Rice University October 12-14, 2002. Michel Achard and I co-organized the conference. Keynote speakers: John Lucy, Susanna Cumming, Ron Langacker.

Language, Culture and Mind volume

Language, Culture and Mind, ed. by Michel Achard and Suzanne Kemmer, Stanford: CSLI Publications, 2004. An edited selection of 35 of the 70 papers presented at CSDL6. Two substantial keynote articles by John Lucy and Ronald W. Langacker bookend the volume. Other contributors include Ben Bergen, Michael Israel, Sally Rice and John Newman, Anatol Stefanowitsch and Stefan Gries, Fay Wouk, Barbara Kelly and Christine Halvorson, Kristin Davidse, Carol Moder, Barbara Dancygier, Joanne Scheibman, and Grace Song and Phillip Wolff. View the Table of Contents at LCM Contents.

Rice - U.T. Austin Workshop

I coordinated, with the help of Martin Hilpert, the first Rice - U.T. Austin Workshop, "Language in Use", held at Rice Oct. 23-24, 2004.

Usage-Based Models of Language

The book Usage-Based Models of Language, ed. by Michael Barlow and Suzanne Kemmer, appeared in June 2000. It contains 9 original papers based on a wide range of methodologies and types of data, all converging on the basic idea that the study of language structure must be grounded in the study of language use. Contributors include Ronald Langacker, Joan Bybee, Sydney Lamb, Brian MacWhinney, Connie Dickinson and T. Givon, Douglas Biber, Mira Ariel, Arie Verhagen, and Michael Barlow. The link above allows you to "Search Inside" the volume and look at the table of contents.

Upcoming and recent trips and presentations

July 2013

March 28-31, 2013, Plenary speaker, 4th International Conference on Cognitive Semantics, Hunan University, Chengsha, China. July 9, 2012. UK-CLA. King's College, London.

Past conference and talk trips (past 10 years)

May 4, 2012. Keynote lecture, 6th Conference on Language, Discourse and Cognition (CLDC 6), "Neuro-cognitive underpinnings of language: An evolutionary view."

April 25-May 9, 2012. Lecture series, National Taiwan University, Taipei, "Usage-Based Linguistics".

September 2011. Workshop on Cognitive Linguistics, held at the Japanese Cognitive Linguistics Association biennial meeting, Japan.

July 7-August 7, 2011, Visiting Professor, LSA Institute, University of Colorado, Boulder. Taught seminar with Michael Barlow on "Usage-Based Linguistics."

June 13-17, 2011, Faculty scientist, Symposium "Exploring the Mind through Music", Shepherd School of Music, Rice.

May 22, 2011. Lexical blends and Morphology. Department of Applied Language Studies and Linguistics Seminar, University of Auckland, New Zealand

April 15-17, 2011, Exploring the Boundaries and Applications of Corpus Linguistics symposium, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa AL, U.S.A.

September 2010, CSDL conference, UCSD, San Diego, CA

June 2010, Conference on Lexical Blending, Lyon, France.

May 2010, Taiwan Research Fellow. Trips to NTU (Taipei), Wenzao University nr. Kaohsiung, National Chengkung University, Tainan.

March 2010, LAUD Conference, Landau, Germany

October 2009. AACL conference, Alberta, Canada

Jan. 2009. LSA Conference, San Francisco

Sept.-October 2008. Cognitive Linguistics Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia

July 2008. University of Osnabrück, Germany. Summer School in Language, Cognition and Culture

July 2008. University of Hamburg, Germany. Talk in the Typology group

June 2008. Graduate Summer Institute on "Cognition, communication and culture", June 16-20, 2008, Shanghai International University, Shanghai, China

June 2008. Department of Applied Language Studies and Linguistics, University of Auckland, New Zealand

March 2008. Rice-NTU Workshop, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

July 2007. International Cognitive Linguistics Conference. Krakow, Poland

March 2007. Keynote speaker, International Symposium on Language, Culture and Cognition. National Taiwan University

December 2006. Keynote speaker, BAAHE conference, University of Leuven, Belgium

November 2006. Talks in Nagoya, University of Tokyo, Tohoko University Sendai, Japan

November 2006. CSDL, University of California, San Diego

October 2006. Helsinki, Finland. Research visit and various talks

January 2006. With Martin Hilpert. Change in Collocational Profiles as a Process of Grammaticalization. Linguistic Society of America winter meeting, Albuquerque, NM

December 2005. Utrecht, Netherlands. Workshop on Causation. Constructional Grammaticalization

November 2005. Helsinki, Finland. Keynote speaker, Symposium on Interdisciplinary Themes in Cognitive Linguistics

November 2005. Linguistics Colloquium, University of Tartu, Estonia

October 2005. Constructional Profiles as the Basis of Semantic Analysis Link to Powerpoint presentation. Dubrovnik, Croatia. Keynote speaker, Converging and Diverging Trends in Cognitive Linguistics

August 2005. With Martin Hilpert. Constructional Grammaticalization. Presented at ICHL 17, U. Wisconsin at Madison

July 2005. Keynote speaker, ICLC 9. Yonsei University. Seoul, Korea

May 2005. Keynote speaker, First FCLA meeting, Bordeaux, France

March 2005. University of Nijmegen "Pionier" Lecture Series

December 2004. Keynote speaker, University of Hamburg, Germany

November 2004. Keynote speaker, High Desert Linguistics Society, University of Albuquerque, NM. "Causation and Grammar"

November 2004. Keynote Speaker, Conference on Passive. "Passive and Usage". University of Oslo, Norway

June 30-July 3, 2004. LIPP Symposium on Language and Linguistics, University of Munich

September 2003. Conference on Imagery in Language, in Honor of Ronald W. Langacker. Lodz, Poland. (Invited Plenary Speaker)

July 20-25, 2003, 8th ICLC conference, Logrono, Spain. "Function, Discourse, and Mind: Unifying the Perspectives"

July 25-27, 2002, Second Nilo-Saharan NSF Workshop, Max Planck Insititute, Leipzig, Germany (Invited speaker)

July 4-6, 2002 Rhetoric, Culture and Communication Conference, Mainz, Germany (Invited speaker)

April 2002 Global Perspectives on Human Language Conference, Stanford University (Invited speaker)

March 2002 First Nilo-Saharan NSF Workshop, Kisumu, Kenya (invited speaker)

Teaching at LSA Institute

Summer 2011 I will be teaching at the Linguistic Society of America Summer meeting at University of Colorado, Boulder.

In Summer 2001 I was a Visiting Professor, Linguistic Society of America Linguistic Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara.

CSC Fellowship

Fall semester 2000 I was a fellow of the Center for the Study of Cultures. I was working on a research project on causation in Luo and human language generally.

Sabbatical at Max Planck

In spring-summer 2000 I was a Senior Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, in the Department of Psychology.

Recent courses

Ling/Engl 215 Words in English: Structure, History, Use
Ling/Psych 315/515 Semantics: Introduction to the Study of Meaning
Ling/Engl 395 The History of English
Ling 403 Foundations of Linguistics
Ling 554 Seminar in Semantic Theory

Other courses I have taught

Ling 554, Advanced Lexical Semantics
Ling 405: Topics in Language Change. Topic for 2005: Constructions and Language Change
Ling 551: Graduate Seminar Seminar on Constructional Syntax
Ling 402: Syntax and Semantics
Rice Continuing Studies: The English Language, Past and Present
Ling 595LB: UC Santa Barbara: Cognitive Lexical Semantics
Ling 550: Seminar in Semantic Theory (with Michel Achard)
Ling 409: Seminar on Causation and Motion (with Michel Achard)
Univ 112: The Power of Persuasion (with M. Achard, M. Hebl, C. Funk)
Ling 408: Field Methods: The Luo Language, Part II, Morphosyntax

Other Course Pages

The Luo Database

Data elicited by my 1997-98 Field Methods class on The Luo Language has been put into a searchable database accessible via the web. The Luo page also includes some grammatical sketches written by the students and some other useful links. Page design: Sue Wen Chiao.

New Words in English

Students in Linguistics 215 put together a page called "New Words in English" for neologisms (recently coined words) and examples of their use. These words were collected in "Word Journals" that the students kept during Fall 1996 (Fall 1998 soon to be added). Page design: Carlos Nash.

New Word Journal

Another collection from the Word Journals of the Linguistics 215 class from Fall 1997. This one has a web interface designed by Jenn Drummond. Students inputted their entries directly to the web, and provided actual citations (context and source) as well as comments on usage. This journal includes both neologisms and conventional words that happened to be new to the students. (The latter give an idea of what college-level vocabulary acquisition looks like.)


A collection of shorthand iconic emotive signalizers for use in electronic mail (ranging from the useful to the silly).

Enjoy Words

Enjoywords is my hobby website run from my home. On it I run a language blog about English words and a Q&A Forum about words and grammar called "Ask Dr. Eek".

Linguistics Links

The Linguistic Society of America Homepage
The Linguist List Homepage
Ethnologue: Languages of the World
Rutgers Optimality Archive
Vocal tract images
Metaphor Databank
Canadian English
English Language and Linguistics journal contents
Mark Turner's blending page
Linguistics Association of Finland

Dictionaries, Texts, and Other Language Reference

Oxford English Dictionary Online (Accessible to the Rice community and to other subscribers) Lots of dictionaries of various languages. (Formerly A Web of On-line Dictionaries.)
WordNet A lexical database for English
Electronic Text Resources
Corpus Linguistics: Zillions of Corpora
World Wide Words

My Favorite Other Links

Famous Paintings. WebMuseum Paris.
Cave Paintings: Ardèche
Victorian Women Writers Project

Quote Corner

Illuminating quote from a person lacking all sense of irony:

"In the sciences, one confronts some puzzling facts and attempts to
devise principles that will explain them. In ideological warfare, one
begins with Higher Truths dictated from above. The task is to select
the facts, or invent them, in such a way as to render the required
conclusions not too transparently absurd--at least for properly
disciplined minds."

--Noam Chomsky, "Is Peace at Hand?" Zeta magazine, p. 12, Jan. 1988