For a PDF of my CV, click here: McPherson CV


Curriculum Vitae
Laura E. McPherson 

Last updated: June 18, 2017

Dartmouth College
Program in Linguistics
15 N. College St. HB 6220
Hanover, NH 03755
Phone:  603-646-3403
Email:  laura.emcpherson - AT - gmail


2014                   Ph.D. in Linguistics; University of California, Los Angeles
Replacive Grammatical Tone in the Dogon languages                                             
                           Committee: Bruce Hayes and Russell Schuh (Co-chairs), Kie Zuraw, Anoop Mahajan,
                           Larry Hyman (UC Berkeley)

Fall 2011            Visiting student in linguistics at MIT

2011                    MA in Linguistics; University of California, Los Angeles
                           Thesis: “Tonal Underspecification and Interpolation in Tommo So"
                           Committee: Bruce Hayes and Russell Schuh (Co-chairs), Patricia Keating

2008                    BA, summa cum laude in Linguistics with a minor in Japanese, Scripps College, Claremont, CA 
                           Honors thesis: “A Descriptive and Theoretical Account of Luganda Verbal Morphology”
                          Advisor: Mary Paster

External grants and awards

2017-2020           National Science Foundation – Documenting Endangered Languages. “A reference grammar and tonal
                            documentation of Seenku, an endangered Mande language.” (BCS-1664355)

2010-2013           NSF Graduate Research Fellowship ($30,000/year stipend, plus tuition)

2008-2009           Fulbright fellowship (Mali) ($26,000)


In preparation      McPherson, Laura. A Grammar of Seenku.

2013                    McPherson, Laura. A Grammar of Tommo So. Mouton Grammar Library 62. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. 

2007                    Boucquey, Thierry, Karina Flores, Julia Kramer, Laura McPherson, Maggie Pettit, Hana Silverstein and
                            Emily Tjuanakis. 100 Games and Activities for the Introductory Foreign Language Classroom. New                                              
                            York: Eye on Education.

Peer-reviewed articles

2018                    McPherson, Laura and Kevin Ryan. Tone-tune association in Tommo So (Dogon) folk songs. Language 94.1: 119-

2017                    McPherson, Laura. On (ir)realis in Seenku (Mande, Burkina Faso). In Jason Kandybowicz and Harold Torrence
Africa’s Endangered Languages: Documentary and Theoretical Approaches. Oxford University Press.

2017                    McPherson, Laura. Multiple feature affixation in Seenku plural formation. Morphology 27.2: 217-252.

2017                    McPherson, Laura. Morphosyntax of adjectives in Seenku [sos]. Manden Kan 57.

2017                    McPherson, Laura. Tone features revisted: evidence from Seenku (Mande, Burkina Faso). In Doris Payne, Sara
                            Pacchiarotti, and Mokaya Bosire (eds.),
Selected Proceedings of the 46th Annual Conference on African Linguistics.           
                            Berlin: Language Science Press: 5-21.

2016                    McPherson, Laura and Bruce Hayes. Relating application rate to morphological structure: the case of Tommo So
                            vowel harmony. Phonology 33.1: 125-167.

2016                    Culminativity and ganging in the tonology of Awa suffixes. Language: Phonological Analysis 92.1: e38-e66.

2016                   McPherson, Laura and Jeffrey Heath. Phrasal grammatical tone in the Dogon languages: the role of constraint
                           interaction. Natural Language
 and Linguistic Theory 34: 593-639.

2013                    McPherson, Laura. The structural origins of tonal overlays in Tommo So (Dogon) compounds. Journal of
                           West African Languages

2013                    Heath, Jeffrey and Laura McPherson. Tonosyntax and reference restriction in Dogon NPs. Language 89.2:

2011                    McPherson, Laura and Kirill Prokhorov. Structural correlates of ‘liver’ expressions in Dogon emotional
                            vocabulary. In Gian Claudio Batic (ed.) Encoding Emotions in African Languages. LINCOM Europa: 38-                                           

2009                    Heath, Jeffrey and Laura McPherson. Cognitive set and lexicalization strategy in Dogon action verbs.
                           Anthropological Linguistics. 51.1: 38-63.

2009                    McPherson, Laura and Mary Paster. Evidence for the Mirror Principle and morphological templates in
                            Luganda affix ordering. In
Selected Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference on African Linguistics: 
                            Linguistic Research and Languages in Africa,
Akinloye Ojo and Lioba Moshi (eds.). Somerville:
                           Cascadilla: 56-66.

Book reviews

2017                   Review of Phonologie et morphosyntaxe de dzuungoo de Samogohiri. by Paul Solomiac (Rüdiger Köppe Verlag
Manden Kan 57.

Media writing

2017                    "We can't stem the tide of language death." LA Review of Books. 

2017                    "Greater recognition of Africa's invisible female entrepreneurs needed." Women's E-News.         

Conference Proceedings (abstract review)

In Press               McPherson, Laura. “Cyclic spell-out and the interaction of Seenku tonal processes.” Tonal Aspects of Language
                            2016, University of Buffalo.

2012                    Kalin, Laura and Laura McPherson. Senaya (Neo-Aramaic): Structural PCC effects in progressives. In
                           Proceedings of the 30th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, ed. Nate Arnett and Ryan Bennett. 
                           Somerville: Cascadilla.

2012                    McPherson, Laura. Underspecified tone in Tommo So (Dogon, Mali). In Proceedings of the 29th West
                            Coast Conference on Formal
 Linguistics,  ed. Jaehoon Choi et al. Somerville: Cascadilla: 169-177.


Invited talks and guest lectures

November 2017  “The talking balafon of the Sembla.” Invited talk at the Eastman School of Music/Rochester/Cornell/Buffalo Music
                            Cognition Symposium, November 18, 2017.

November 2017  “Seenku argument-head tone sandhi: phonology, morphosyntax, or both?” Colloquium at University of Rochester,
                            November 17, 2017.

November 2017  “Seenku argument-head tone sandhi: phonology, morphosyntax, or both?” Colloquium at University at Buffalo,
                            November 15, 2017.

November 2017  “The talking balafon of the Sembla.” Guest lecutre in ANTH 50/MUSIC 17: The Poetics and Politics of Sounds and
                           Words, Dartmouth College.

April 2017           "The Sambla xylophone: music, language and identity." Guest lecture in MUSIC 45: Afropop! Dartmouth College.

February 2017     "Using tone to diagnose grammatical architecture: evidence from Seenku (Mande, Burkina Faso)", Colloquium at
                            SUNY Stony Brook, February 17, 2017.

October 2016      “Talking balafons: the musical language of the Sambla,” invited talk at Brandeis University with musicians
                             Mamadou Diabaté, Seydou Diabaté, and Dramane Dembele, October 14, 2016.

April 2016           "The Sembla xylophone: Seenku phonology in a speech surrogate system", Colloquium at Harvard University,
                            April 29, 2016. 

March 2016         “Expériences de terrain.” Guest lecture in Linguistic Methods class at the University of New Caledonia, March 10,

November 2015   “Constraint interaction and the role of spell-out in Dogon tonosyntax.” Colloquium at University of Massachusetts,
                             Amherst, November 20, 2015.

March  2015        “Plural formation in Seenku (Mande, Burkina Faso).” Colloquium at Boston University, March 4, 2015.

February 2015     “Tonosyntax, relative clauses, and the role of phases in Dogon.” Colloquium at Georgetown University, February              
                            27, 2015.

November 2014   “Phrasal phonology, restructured: the place of Dogon tonosyntax.” Workshop on Building Blocks.
                             Universität Leipzig, DFG Graduate Programme Interaction of Grammatical Building Blocks, November
                            21-22, 2014.

April 2014           “Tone-tone association in Tommo So folk songs.” Guest lecture in Language and Music, co-taught by
                            Stephanie Shih and Jonah Katz at UC Berkeley.

April 2014           “Variable vowel harmony in Tommo So.” Guest lecture in Graduate Morphology, taught by Stephanie Shih
                            at UC Berkeley.

June 2013            “Tone-tune association in Tommo So (Dogon) folk songs.” Invited talk at the UC San Diego Linguistic
                            Fieldwork Working Group.         

May 2013            “Tonal competition in the Dogon DP: a constraint-based approach to conflict resolution.” Invited talk at UC

April 2013           “Tommo So Verbal Morphology.” Guest lecture in LGCS 109 Morphology, taught by Mary Paster at
                            Pomona College.

February 2012    “Le système tonal dans les langues dogons: emplois lexicaux et grammaticaux.” Cercle Linguistique 
                           Bamakois. SIL International, Bamako, Mali.

December 2011   “Predicting the base in Tommo So noun-verb pairs.” Invited talk at the Harvard University GSAS
                            Workshop: Language Universals and Linguistic Fieldwork.

June 2010            “Tonosyntaxe nominale dans les langues dogons.” Cercle Linguistique Bamakois, SIL International, 
                           Bamako, Mali.


2017                   With Emily Grabowski. “Automated tone level annotation in the documentation of New Caledonian tone.” The 9th
                           workshop on Austronesian and Papuan Languages and Linguistics (APLL9), LACITO/INALCO, Paris, June 21-23,

2017                    “Tonal inequalities in a four-tone language: the case of Seenku’s middle tones.” Paper presented at the 48th Annual
                             Conference on African Linguistics, Indiana University, March 30-April 2, 2017.

2017                    With Emily Grabowski. “A semi-automated workflow for producing time-aligned intermediate tonal annotations.”
                            Paper presented at the International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation, University of
                            Hawai’i at Manoa, March 2-5, 2017

2016                    “Grammatical facotrs in Tommo So tone-tune mapping.” With Kevin Ryan (Harvard University). Paper presented at
                            the Annual Meeting on Phonology, USC, October 21-23, 2016.

2016                    “Cyclic spell-out of phrasal morphophonology: the case of Seenku possessive tone.” Poster presented at the Annual
                            Meeting on Phonology, USC, October 21-23, 2016.

2016                    “Cyclic spell-out and the interaction of Seenku tonal processes.” Paper presented at Tonal Aspects of Language,
                            University of Buffalo, May 24-27, 2016.

2016                    “Seenku phonology in the Sembla xylophone surrogate language.” Paper presented at the 90th Annual Meeting of
                            the Linguistic Society of America, January 7-10, 2016

2015                    “Tonal compounding in Seenku (Mande, Burkina Faso)”. Paper presented at the 8th World Congress on African  
                            Linguistics. Kyoto University, August 21-24, 2015.

2015                    “Word-level and phrase-level replacive tone: an implicational relationship.” Paper presented at Morphosyntactic
                           Triggers of Tone: New Data and Theories, workshop held at University of Leipzig, June 12-14, 2015.

2015                    “Tone features revisited: evidence from Seenku (Mande, Burkina Faso).” Paper presented at the 46th Annual
                           Conference on African Linguistics. University of Oregon. March 26-28, 2015.

2014                    “Le pluriel en Sembla.” Mandelang-4. Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso.

2014                    “Hierarchical structure of Seeku verb paradigms.” 45th Annual Conference on African Linguistics. Kansas

2014                    “A maxent model of tone-tune association in Tommo So songs.” 88th annual meeting of the Linguistic
                           Society of America, Minneapolis, January 2-5, 2014.

2013                   “Phrasal Construction Morphology: the case of Dogon replacive tone.” American International Morphology
                           Meeting, University of California San Diego, November 8-10, 2013.

2013                    “Tonal competition in the Dogon DP: a constraint-based approach to conflict resolution.” 44th Annual
                            Conference on African Linguistics/Georgetown University Round Table, Georgetown University, March 8-
                           10, 2013.

2013                    “Dogon grammatical tone at the phonology-syntax interface.” 10th Old World Conference in Phonology,
                            Boğaziçi University, January 16-19, 2013.

2012                    “Relating application frequency to morphological distance: the case of Tommo So vowel harmony.” 20th
                            Manchester Phonology Meeting, University of Manchester, May 24-26, 2012. With Bruce Hayes.

2012                    “Senaya (Neo-Aramaic): Structural PCC effects in progressives.” 30th West Coast Conference on Formal
                            Linguistics, University of California, Santa Cruz, April 13-15, 2012. With Laura Kalin.

2012                    “Patterns and predictability in Tommo So noun-verb pairs.” 43rd Annual Conference on African
                            Linguistics, Tulane University, March 14-17, 2012.

2011                    “Structural correlates of tone and meaning in Tommo So compounds.” 42nd Annual Conference on African
                           Linguistics, University of Maryland, College Park, June 10-12, 2011.

2011                    “Tonal underspecification and interpolation in Tommo So.” 29th West Coast Conference on Formal
                            Linguistics, University of Arizona, Tuscon, April 22-24, 2011.

2011                    “Morphological distance and optional harmony in Tommo-So.” 85th annual meeting of the Linguistic
                           Society of America, Pittsburgh, January 6-9, 2011.

2010                   “Dogon alienable and inalienable possessives: evidence for structure-sensitive grammatical tone in the DP.”
                           41st Annual Conference on African Linguistics, University of Toronto, May 6-8, 2010.

2009                    “Sharing typology on the web: the Dogon Language Project” with Steve Moran. 8th meeting of the
                           Association of Linguistic Typology, University of California, Berkeley, July 23-26, 2009.

2008                    “Aspects of the Dogon lexicon” with Jeffrey Heath. 38th Colloquium on African Languages and
                           Linguistics, Leiden University, Netherlands, August 25-27 2008.

2008                    “Evidence for the Mirror Principle and morphological templates in Luganda affix ordering” with Mary
                            Paster. 39
th Annual Conference on African Linguistics, University of Georgia, Athens, April 17-20, 2008.


Dartmouth College

Winter 2018       Linguistics 54: Language Documentation (in Auckland, New Zealand)

Spring 2017        Linguistics 80: Tone

Spring 2017        Linguistics 21: Phonology

Fall 2016            Linguistics 11: Language in Africa

Fall 2016            Linguistics 35: Field Methods (Ekegusii)

Spring 2016        Linguistics 1: Introduction to Linguistics (co-taught with Jim Stanford)

Spring 2016        Linguistics 20: Phonetics

Winter 2016        Linguistics 54: Language Documentation (in Auckland, New Zealand)

Fall 2015             Linguistics 35: Field Methods (Gulmancema)

Spring 2015        Linguistics 21: Phonology

Winter 2015        Linguistics 26: Morphology

Fall 2014             Linguistics 35: Field Methods (Mongolian)



Summer 2012      Instructor for Linguistics 161: Documentary Linguistics

Spring 2012        T.A. for Linguistics 120A: Phonology

Fall 2010             T.A. for Linguistics 1: Introduction to Language



2016-present       Nââ Kwényï (Melanesian, New Caledonia) and other related tonal languages; preliminary trip in March 2016.

2012-present       Seenku (Mande); carried out preliminary fieldwork in Burkina Faso in January 2012; field trips to Burkina Faso 
                           August-September 2013, June-August 2015, June-September 2017, and work with a native speaker consultant in
                           New York City (2015-).

2010-2014         Senaya (Neo-Aramaic); with a consultant in Los Angeles. Collaborative work with Kevin Ryan and Laura

2008-2012          Tommo So (Dogon); spent 2008-2009 in Mali on a Fulbright working on a grammar, dictionary, and texts.
                           Subsequent field trips May-June 2010 and January-February 2012.

2011                    Q’anjob’al (Mayan); field methods class at UCLA.

2007-2008          Luganda (Bantu); field methods class at Pomona College and subsequent work with consultants. 


Internal grants and awards

2017-2018           Neukom CompX Faculty Grant,  “Developing computational tools for tonal annotation in language

2017                    Junior Faculty Fellowship, Dartmouth College

2016                    Leslie Center for the Humanities Project Grant ($15,000) for “The talking xylophone of the Sembla”, a two-week
                            project at Dartmouth involving three traditional Burkinabe musicians to research and present the Sembla xylophone
                            surrogate language system.

2014-                   Burke Award, Dartmouth College ($12,500 research fund)

2013-2014           President’s Award, UCLA

2013-2014           Dissertation Year Fellowship, UCLA

2009-2010           Chancellor’s Prize, UCLA

2008-2009           Thomas J. Watson fellowship (declined)

2008                    Phi Beta Kappa (Claremont chapter)

2008                    Glass Linguistics Prize for best senior thesis, Pomona College

2004-2008           James E. Scripps scholarship, Scripps College

2004-2008           Dean’s List, Scripps College


Professional memberships

Linguistic Society of America

Association of Contemporary African Linguistics (executive committee member)

Society of Women Geographers



Mandenkan (Editorial board)

National Science Foundation Documenting Endangered Languages

Endangered Languages Documentation Program

Linguistic Typology

Language: Phonological Analysis


Journal of Asian and African Studies

Natural Language and Linguistic Theory

Tonal Aspects of Language

Annual Conference on African Linguistics selected proceedings

Annual Meeting of Phonology

Generative Linguistics in the Old World

Northeastern Linguistic Society


2016-               Committee on College Courses (Dartmouth College)

2015-               Faculty advisor to Phi Tau (Dartmouth College)    

2014-                   Steering committee for Linguistics and Cognitive Science (Dartmouth)

2014-                   Linguistics Lab manager (Dartmouth)

2010-2011           UCLA Admitted students open house committee

2010                    UCLA Colloquium committee

2010                    Organized and ran an African Linguistics Seminar at UCLA



2017-                            Gabriel Zuckerberg. Sophomore Science Scholar.               

2017-                            Emily Grabowski, Neukom fellow.

2016                    Corinne Kasper. Senior Fellowship. "Three Fires verbal morphology and grammatical description: implications for
                            Potawatomi pedagogy."

2016-                   Maggie Baird. Honors thesis. "Variable word-final vowel reduction and deletion in Gurmancema: a maximum
                            entropy model."

2016-                   Emily Grabowski. Presidential Scholar.

2016-                   Maggie Baird. Presidential Scholar.

2015-2016           Ksenia Ryzhova. Presidential Scholar.

2014-2015           Rebecca Schantz. Presidential Scholar

Dissertation committees

2017           Taylor Miller. Polysynthetic languages at the interface: the role of syntax in deriving phonological structure. 
                   University of Delaware.



English (native)

French (fluent)

Japanese (advanced)

Spanish (intermediate)

Tommo So (intermediate)

Farsi (beginning/intermediate)

Thai (beginning)

Fulfulde (beginning)

Bambara/Dioula (beginning)

Senaya (beginning)

Hindi/Urdu (beginning)

German (beginning)

   © Laura McPherson 2017