Faculty Profile

Irene Appelbaum

Irene Appelbaum


Email: irene.appelbaum@umontana.edu
Office: Social Sciences 211


Courses taught AY 2021-2022

      Fall Semester

  • LING 270         Introduction to Linguistics
  • LING 494         Seminar: Topics in Discourse

      Spring Semester

  • LING 270         Introduction to Linguistics
  • LING 4/574      Historical Linguistics

Other Linguistics courses taught:

  • LING 465         History and Structure of English for Teachers
  • LING 4/573      Language and Culture
  • LING 4/589      Morphology
  • LING 570         Seminar: Cognitive Linguistics
  • LING 570         Seminar: Deixis
  • LING 570         Seminar: Typology

Courses previously taught in other departments:

  • PHIL 471         Philosophy of Language
  • PHIL 479         Pragmatics
  • PHIL 495         Philosophy of Linguistics
  • PHIL 501         Emergence and Language
  • MCLG 295      Linguistics for Language Majors
  • GRK 101         Elementary Greek I
  • GRK 102         Elementary Greek II

Personal Summary

I am a Professor in the Linguistics Program. I began my academic career as a philosopher interested in linguistics as a higher-level science, with a focus on the foundations of speech perception research. For the past several years, my research has focused on the Ktunaxa language - a language isolate spoken by a handful of people in Montana, Idaho, and British Columbia in Canada. This project has two central goals: contributing to the documentation of Ktunaxa by interlinearizing narratives Franz Boas collected and published as Kutenai Tales (1918); and analyzing these texts for what they can tell us about the relationship between grammar and discourse, both in Ktunaxa and in other languages. I am particularly interested in how our assumptions about the respective domains of grammar and discourse guide, and sometimes misguide, research on language. 


  • PhD, with Honors, University of Chicago, Philosophy, 1995.
  • MA, University of Chicago, Linguistics, 1993.
  • MA, University of Chicago, Philosophy, 1989.
  • AB, cum laude, Princeton University, Philosophy, 1984.

Research Interests

  • Ktunaxa Language and Linguistics
  • Language Documentation
  • Grammatical Relations
  • Language Typology
  • Grammaticalization
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Foundations of Speech Perception
  • Ancient Greek Grammar

Selected Publications

Appelbaum, I. (2021). The Importance of Being Not-Obviative, Papers  of the Algonquian Conference 50, ed. by Monica Macaulay and Margaret Noodin. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.

Appelbaum, Irene. (2019). A Discourse Function of the Passive in Kutenai. Proceedings of the Workshop on Structure and Constituency in the Languages of the Americas 22, ed. by Anne Bertrand and Heather Burge. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Working Papers in Linguistics (UBCWPL). [Some passives in Kutenai have a reference-tracking discourse function and their existence implies that the semantic analysis of passive clauses in Kutenai more generally depends on discourse context.]

Appelbaum, I. (2019) Double Obviatives and Direction-Marking in Kutenai, Proceedings of the Thirtieth Western Conference on Linguistics (WECOL) 23, ed, by Trevor Driscoll. Fresno: Department of Linguistics, California State University, Fresno.

Appelbaum, I. (2019) Review of Casey O'Callaghan, Beyond Vision - Philosophical Essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. 203 pp. in The Philosophical Review, Volume 128, Issue 3.

Appelbaum, I. (2014). Grammaticalization & Explanation. In Grammaticalization Theory & Data (2014), S. Hancil & E. König (eds.), pp. 41-52. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. [While grammaticalization is not itself a causal mechanism, the concept is not explanatorily empty; instead, it picks out a higher-level, functional class.]

Appelbaum, I. (2012). Result Clauses in Ancient Greek In Selected papers of the 10th International Conference on Greek Linguistics (2012), Z. Gavriilidou, A. Efthymiou, E. Thomadaki & P. Kambakis-Vougiouklis (eds.), pp. 114-121. Komotini, Greece: Democritus University of Thrace. [The distinction between possible and actual results can't be used to distinguish natural and actual result clauses because it doesn't distinguish them: they both presuppose possible results.]

Appelbaum, I. (2004). Two Conceptions of the Emergence of Phonemic Structure. Foundations of Science 9, pp.415-435. [There are two distinct and largely orthogonal conceptions of emergence implicit in Lindblom’s account of the emergence of phonemic structure, which I call 'causal emergence' and 'analytic' emergence.]

Appelbaum, I. (2004). Physical Segments and Functional Gestures. In Proceedings of the 2003 Texas Linguistics Society Conference (2004), A. Agwuele, W. Warren, & S. Park (eds.), pp. 1-8. Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

Appelbaum, I. (2000). Merging Information vs. Speech Recognition. Behavioral & Brain Sciences (2000) 23, 3, pp. 325-6. Commentary on D. Norris, J. McQueen, & A. Cutler, Merging Information in Speech Recognition: Feedback is Never Necessary. Behavioral & Brain Sciences (2000) 23, 3, pp. 299-370.

Appelbaum, I. (1999). The Dogma of Isomorphism: A Case Study from Speech Perception. Philosophy of Science 66, 3 (Supplement), pp. 250-259. [A central turning point the history of speech perception research, widely thought to mark a break with what I call 'the alphabetic conception of speech', instead marks its entrenchment.]

Appelbaum, I. (1998). Fodor, Modularity, and Speech Perception. Philosophical Psychology 11, 3, pp. 317-330. [Fodor's attempt to resolve the conflict between the assumption that speech perception is modular and the evidence for top-down processing fails because it undermines his own conception of modularity and it cannot account for the contextually varying topic-down influences that characterize speech perception.]

Appelbaum, I. (1998). The Use of Modularity in Cognitive Science. In A Companion to Cognitive Science (1998), W. Bechtel & G. Graham (eds.), pp. 625-635. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell.

Appelbaum, I. (1998). Analytic Isomorphism and Speech Perception. Behavioral & Brain Sciences (1998) 21, p. 6. Commentary on L. Pessoa, E. Thompson and A. Noë, Finding Out About Filling In: A Guide to Perceptual Completion for Visual Science and the Philosophy of Perception. Behavioral & Brain Sciences (1998) 21, 6, pp. 723-802.

Appelbaum, I. (1996). Aspect in Fox. Contemporary Linguistics 2, pp. 23-46. Chicago: University of Chicago.