Faculty Profile

Irene Appelbaum

Irene Appelbaum

Associate Professor

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


Courses I Teach

  • LING 270          Introduction to Language
  • LING 465          History & Structure of English for Teachers
  • LING 474/574   Historical Linguistics
  • LING 489/589   Morphology
  • LING 570          Seminar: Typology and Universals
  • LING 570          Seminar: Cognitive Linguistics

Courses I Have 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 an Associate 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 Kootenai 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 Kootenai 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 Kutenai 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

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

Selected Publications

Appelbaum, I. (forthcoming). A Discourse Function of the Passive in Kutenai. In Online Proceedings of the 22nd Workshop on the Structure and Constituency of Languages of the Americas (April 21-23, 2017). 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. (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 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.