Faculty and Staff

Leora Bar-el

Leora Bar-el


Email: leora.bar-el@umontana.edu
Office: Social Sciences 210
Office Hours:

My Autumn 2021 drop-in office hours are being held on Zoom

  • Wednesdays 11am-12pm
  • Thursdays 4pm-5pm
  • Fridays 2pm-3pm

For office hour meetings at other times, please use my online scheduler. Available meeting times will be updated weekly. You are welcome to sign-up for a meeting slot 24 hrs before a selected time. Meetings take place at my office hours Zoom link (above).

My pronouns are she/her/hers

The University of Montana acknowledges that we are in the aboriginal territories of the Salish and Kalispel people. We honor the path they have always shown us in caring for this place for the generations to come.

Current Position

Professor, Linguistics Program, Department of Anthropology

Personal Summary

I am a Professor in the Linguistics Program which is housed in the Department of Anthropology. My research interests lie in a variety of areas of linguistics, and I have done research in phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics. My doctoral dissertation, based on original fieldwork, focused on the aspectual system of Skwxwú7mesh (a.k.a. Squamish), a Central Salish language spoken in British Columbia, Canada (and related to the Salish language spoken here in Montana). My interests include language description and analysis (in particular, Indigenous languages of North America and (more recently) Bantu languages of East Africa), issues in language documentation and revitalization, data collection and research methodologies in linguistic fieldwork, dialect variation (especially Montana English), tense and aspect systems, among others. I have experience conducting fieldwork with speakers of Salish languages, Algonquian languages, and East Ruvu Bantu languages of Tanzania. I am interested in dispelling myths about language and promoting an appreciation of linguistic diversity - check out my TEDx talk on this topic!


  • PhD in Linguistics, University of British Columbia, 2005

Dissertation: Aspectual Distinctions in Skwxwú7mesh

  • MA in Linguistics, University of British Columbia, 1998

Thesis: Verbal Plurality and Adverbial Quantification: A Case Study of Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish Salish)

  • BA (Honors), University of Western Ontario, 1996
  • Certificate in Second Language Teaching, University of Western Ontario, 1996


  • Helen and Winston Cox Educational Excellence Award, 2012

Research Interests

  • Indigenous languages of North America
  • Salish languages
  • Algonquian languages
  • Montana dialects of English
  • Bantu languages of East Africa
  • Issues in language documentation and description
  • Issues in language endangerment and revitalization
  • Fieldwork methodologies
  • Tense and aspect systems
  • Non-causal/causal alternations

Pedagogy Department Field



Courses I teach (fairly regularly)

  • LING 375: Linguistic Ecology & Language Endangerment (Intermediate Writing course; GenEd Group X Cultural and International Diversity)
  • LING 470: Linguistic Analysis (face-to-face, online, and blended)
  • LING 473/573: Language and Culture (advanced writing course for Anthropology major and Linguistics major)
  • LING 475/575: Linguistic Field Methods
    • Spring 2021: Lani (Trans New Guinea; Papua)
    • Spring 2019: Kirundi (Bantu; Burundi)
    • Spring 2017: Javanese (Austronesian; Indonesia)
    • Spring 2015: Tajik (Indo-Iranian; Tajikistan)
    • Spring 2013: Gã (Kwa; Ghana)
    • Spring 2011: Georgian (Kartvelian; Georgia)
    • Spring 2009: Blackfoot (Algonquian; US/Canada)
  • LING 484/584: North American Indigenous Languages and Linguistics (advanced writing course for Anthropology major and Linguistics major)
  • LING 570: Tense and Aspect Systems (a.k.a. Temporal/Aspectual Systems)

Courses I teach/have taught (less regularly)

  • LING 270: Introduction to Linguistics
  • LING 472/572: Syntax
  • LING 491: Sociolinguistics
  • LING 570: Events and States
  • LING 570: Issues in Language Documenation
  • LING 570: Language Documentation, Preservation and Revitalization
  • LING 570: Number Systems Across Languages

Other teaching activitites

  • "Language Myths (and Realities)" for the MOLLI program.
  • "Success in American Society: Linguistic & Sociological Perspectives (co-taught with Dr. Daisy Rooks, UM Department of Sociology) for the MOLLI program.
  • Global Leadership Initiative (GLI) first-year seminar "Linguistic Diversity: Myths, Realities, Challenges and Solutions". I also serve on the GLI oversight board.
  • I am a UM Pedagogy Project fellow and a member of the leadership team.

Professional Experience

  • 2020-Present, Professor, Linguistics Program, Department of Anthropology, University of Montana
  • 2013-2020, Associate Professor, Linguistics Program, Department of Anthropology, University of Montana
  • 2007-2013, Assistant Professor, Linguistics Program, Department of Anthropology, University of Montana
  • 2005-2007, Post-Doctoral Teaching and Research Fellow, Endangered Languages Academic Program, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

International Experience

  • Visiting Research Scholar, University of Gothenburg, Sweden (Autumn 2019 semester)
  • Fieldwork with speakers of six related Bantu languages, Morogoro, Tanzania (November 2018, November 2019)
  • Visiting Research Scholar, University of Gothenburg, Sweden (May 2017)

Selected Publications

Bar-el, Leora and Malin Petzell. To appear. (Im)perfectivity and actionality in East Ruvu Bantu. Language Typology and Universals 74(1). T. Crane, J. Nichols and B. Persohn (eds.).

Bar-el, Leora, Megan. Stark, and Samantha Prins. 2021. Resources for and about Indigenous Languages: Examining Online Collections. Sustaining Indigenous Languages: Connecting Communities, Teachers and Scholars. Lisa Crowshoe, Inge Genee, Mahaliah. Peddle, Joslin Smith and Conor Snoek (eds.). Northern Arizona University. p141-155.

Petzell, Malin, Leora Bar-el and Lotta Aunio (eds.). 2020. The Semantics of Verbal Morphology in Under-described Languages: A Special Issue of Studia Orientalia Electronica Volume 8(3)

Bar-el, Leora. 2018. Another Look at the Salish Stative prefix. In Wa7 xweysás i nqwal’utteniha i ucwalmícw: (He loves the people’s languages): Essays in Honor of Henry Davis. UBC Occasional Papers in Linguistics. Lisa Matthewson, Erin Guntly, Marianne Huijsmans and Michael Rochemont (eds.). Pp 583-596.

Bar-el, Leora. 2017. Fieldworkers and Sociolinguists: What we can learn from each other. Fleur de Ling: Tulane University Working Papers Volume 3 (MIT Working Papers in Linguistics). Lisa Sprowls, Craig Alcantara and Tosin Gbogi (eds.).

Bar-el, Leora, Felton Rosulek, Laura. and Lisa. Sprowls. 2017. Montana English and its Place in the West. Speech in the Western States Volume 2: The Mountain West. Valerie Fridland, Alicia Beckford Wassink, Tyler Kendall and Betsy Evans (eds.). Publication of the American Dialect Society Volume 102(1), Supplement to American Speech Volume 92. Pp 107-138.

Bar-el, Leora. 2015. Documenting and classifying aspectual classes across languages. In Methodologies in Semantic Fieldwork. Lisa Matthewson and Ryan Bochnak (eds.). New York: Oxford University Press. pp 75-109.