Christopher Comer, Dean
Associate Professor, Dept.ChairFax: 406-243-4076 (H&S)
Office: Social Sciences 207
- Monday - Wednesday - Friday 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
- by appointment
Associate Professor, Linguistics
Chair, Department of Anthropology
- LING 472/572 Generative Syntax (The Chomskyan Drift)
PREVIOUSLY: LING 270 Introduction to Linguistics; LING 465 Structure & History of English; LING 472/572 Generative Syntax; LING 474/574 Historical Linguistics; LING 478 Learner Language (new title, formerly Second Language Development); LING 480 Teaching English as a Foreign Language, LING 489 Morphology, LING 570 Graduate Seminars (Codeswitching, Childhood Bilingualism, Language Contact, Linearization & C-Command, Syntactic Development & Binding, Second Language Acquisition and Universal Grammar)
Expired: LING 466 Pedagogical Grammar; LING 476 Child Language Acquisition (course content synthesized in newly titled LING 478); LING 481 The ESL Professional
Records suggest that the first professor to teach anthropology at University of Montana was Dr. Harry Turney-High. "Hyphen Harry," a sobriquet given him by students back then (pre-WWII), had a solid reputation for (i) awarding few A's and (ii) telling stories exceptionally well. Those two generations ago, campus clearly was not the same place it's become: The building I enter for work daily was The Library in those days, when no Department of Anthropology existed; and, despite getting labelled an anthropology professor, Dr. Turney-High chaired the Department of Economics and Sociology in the Division of Social Sciences of the College of Arts and Sciences. Might such contrasts be more apparent than real?
Rather than muse, I'll try sticking to a few plain facts from here on in. Dr. Turney-High was a Native American ethnologist who understood, even though his field appeared impractical to others, it engaged applied hands-on real-life experiences (as much then as today), and its practicalities were most readily acknowledgeable when in the form of inferences drawn by people working in the field and in bodies of evidence they gathered together among their collections.
Today, one may safely conclude Dr. Turney-High was initially responsible for protecting and preserving an early portion of the collection now housed inside the UM Anthropological Collection Facility. By addressing interim President Leaphart (then Law School Dean), UM's first professor of anthropology clarified the stakes, "economy and ethics," that were in play regarding the collection's care and treatment (est. 2016 dollars, $350,000 to $500,000), an issue burning just as intensely nowadays as it was in 1941 when Dr. Turney-High originally voiced it outwardly in print.
At least in that respect, I can relate to Dr. Turney-High and a contemporary of his, Dr. Paul C. Phillips, professor of history, one-time university Vice President, Chair of the Division of Social Sciences and eventually Director of the Museum of Northwest History (since defunct), then located in today's Stone Hall: From the mid-1930s to the early-1950s, Dr. Phillips endeavored to assemble Montana's "historical relics" but also have them professionally curated in a permanent facility; when that prospect in its relatively short run had grown to be no longer sustainable, one fateful suggestion he addressed to then university President McFarland was assigning Dr. Carling Malouf (to become Anthropology Department founder) caretaker for the Native American collection in 1952.
Chairing this department as associate professor of Linguistics, I comprehend fully what these individuals must have felt - not conventionally of the elements characterizing the specialized disciplines they were appointed to manage and lead, behaviors alien to their training to one extent or another, primarily depending on those they were obliged to commit to. Undertakings relevant to curating the university's collection are, based broadly on a somewhat random historical design, equally fresh 75 years later.
B.A. English, Arizona State University, 1988 (Honors' College Undergraduate Thesis)
M.A. Linguistics, Pennsylvania State, 1993 (Professional Paper and Comprehensive Examinations)
Ph. D. Second Language Acquisition and Teaching, University of Arizona, 1999 (Doctoral Dissertation)
Field of Study
Presently: Language Contact and Language Change (Convergence), Emergence and Development of Functional Forms
Gong, Jiang Song, Tully J. Thibeau. 2010. The development of Chinese classifiers by adult English speakers: a pilot study. Academic Exchange Quarterly 14(3). 34-39.
Thibeau, Tully J. 2005. Review: Determinants of grammatical variation in English. G. Rohdenburg and B. Mondorf (Eds.), 2003, Mouton de Gruyter. Studies in Language 29(3). 683-699.
Thibeau, Tully J. 2003. Review: Particle verbs in English: syntax, information structure and intonation, N. Dehé, 2002, John Benjamins. LINGUIST List 14.1078 (Friday, April 11).
- Research Grant, University Grant Program, University of Montana, May 2003 to August 2004
- Research Grant, University Grant Program, University of Montana, May 2002 to August 2003
- Research Scholarship, Marshall Foundation, University of Arizona, Fall-Spring 1998-1999
- Research Award, Dean's Graduate Assistant Teacher Course Release, College of Humanities, Spring 1998
- Tuition Fellowship, Linguistic Society of America 1997 Summer Institute, Cornell University, June 23 to August 1, 1997
- UM Center for Teaching Excellence, Sophomore Seminar, Approved Special Topics Course, Spring 2007 (with Dr. Mizuki Miyashita)
- Honorary Lifetime Membership, Golden Key International Honour Society, nominated October 1, 2003
- Program Planning, English for Academic Purposes; Language Proficiency Description and Language Behavior; Developing Assessment Instruments
- Methods of Linguistic Analysis as well as their Application to the Language Behavior of Learners
Chair Director Departments
Introductory Linguistics, Contact Linguistics (Bilingual Studies and Language Development of Children and Adults), Classroom Applications targeting (English) language knowledge and usage
Conduct affairs related to planning a program of study in the form of in-sessional courses designed as a bridge connecting (i) the American college content course and (ii) international students whose proficiency suggest a need for such support (e.g., inferential & analytical thinking while using the language of instruction)