Richard A. Demers

Distinguished Professor, Emeritus

About Richard A. Demers

Dr. Demers has always had a special interest in natural science, and his interest in linguistics is a special case of this interest. His undergraduate degree is in physics and he has continued to follow developments in all of the sciences by undertaking broad readings. Within the field of linguistics, Professor Demers has three major interests: phonology, with an emphasis on articulatory and acoustic phonetics; Native American linguistics, with an emphasis on the languages of the Northwest; and universal syntax, the study of the range of possible ways that human language can be organized syntactically.

Professor Demers is currently establishing a phonetics laboratory in Communications 303 to carry out acoustic research on the indigenous languages of Arizona. With the assistance of a grant from the Vice-President for Research he has assembled analysis equipment and has begun acoustic studies on Navajo, Tonoho O'odham, Yaqui, Mojave, Chemehueve, and Hopi. An NSF grant to expand this research will be submitted in early 1988.

Professor Demers also has an interest in the employment of computer technology in the teaching of foreign language. He has been successful in acquiring funding to support a small group of engineers and programmers who are working on language lessons for Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, as well as all western languages that use a roman letter alphabet.

The following principles are used in Professor Demers' teaching: Advanced graduate students should be given as much freedom as possible to pursue their interests: beginning graduate students should be shown how one carries out linguistic research; and undergraduates should have courses that awaken their interest in language and linguistics.

Research Interests

Phonology, Salishan linguistics, experimental phonetics