Eric Jackson

Assistant Professor of Practice

Office Hours: Thursdays 10am to noon, on Zoom

Eric is a "full stack" linguist with experience in fieldwork, language documentation, and language technology. In this context, "full stack" means that he's comfortable working in any domain from phonetics to semantics—a situation often beneficial when working with communities who speak under-documented languages.

Eric studied both physics and linguistics as an undergraduate at the U of A and went on to graduate study in linguistics at UCLA. Since completing a PhD in Linguistics in 2005, he has worked in southern China and Southeast Asia in community-based applied linguistics for SIL, an international language development NGO. This work included cooperative projects with government agencies, minority language community members, and curriculum development and teaching in a joint Masters program in Kunming.

Eric is now teaching in the Masters in Human Language Technology program in the Department of Linguistics, helping students gain the skills to use computational tools for applications within natural language. Although many current natural language tools have been developed for high-resource languages like English, Eric's passion is to see these computational tools developed for language communities without huge existing datasets.

Research Interests

  • Bringing Natural Language Processing tools and techniques to low-resource language communities
  • Producing quality materials documenting threatened languages, and training & assisting others—especially language community members—to do the same
  • Lexical semantics of verbs: argument structure, event structure, and their morphological expression and manipulation
  • Serial verb constructions in Zhuang and their connection to properties of discourse
  • Using novel computational tools (vowel space density, phonemic string-edit distance) to aid traditional dialectology, especially in Tai languages of China