Chet Creider

Research Interests and Publications

Current Research

My research is mainly in the field of linguistics with occasional forays into the much more difficult area of Sociocultural
anthropology and has mainly been done in two areas, Norway and East Africa. In recent years my interest has shifted to Homeric Greek and Medieval Latin and I am currently working on the study of word order phenomena (particularly hyperbaton) in these languages. I also have an anthropological interest in the study of the flamenco music of Spain, have recently published an article analyzing the singing styles of one of the greatest singers of the past century, Fernanda de Utrera, and am currently writing up an article on the rhythmical structure of the bulerias.

Previous Research

The most recent anthropological work was an article written with my wife Jane, `Gender inversion in Nandi ritual' (Anthropos 92: 51-58) in which we use a variety of linguistic data to dispute an earlier analysis of girls' initiation rituals in Nandi society and provide a new analysis of these rituals.

In linguistics my research for a number of years was in the area of morphology. This is an area which, for historical reasons, has long remained the messiest part of linguistics. Yet for many languages, and for all of the African languages I work with, it is extremely important. Although I spent much of my career working within the general approach to language developed by Noam Chomsky at M.I.T., I gradually become convinced that this research tradition is too encumbered with its historical baggage of rules, levels, transformations, etc., to adapt to recent relevant discoveries in the cognitive sciences. After some consideration, I decided to try to work with the framework of Word Grammar as developed by Richard Hudson at the University of London. Although it is part of the modern generative tradition originated by Chomsky, Word Grammar is a fresh approach which does without rules, levels and transformations and instead treats language in terms of cognitive networks. As an anthropologist, I also appreciate Word Grammar's holistic view of the organisation of language and look forward to exploring less purely linguistic phenomena in terms of it.

Another area of earlier concentration was on a dictionary of the Nandi Language. This work, done with Jane Creider, was a combination of database programming and dictionary construction. The goal was to create a multipurpose computer-based dictionary with advanced search features which make it useful for both general use and for specialized use by linguists. The current version, ndic2, is written in Clipper and uses 7 tables. The print version of the dictionary, by Ruediger Koeppe, was published in 2001.

Two much earlier projects resulting in monographs were: (1) The Syntax of the Nilotic Languages (the Nilotic languages offer a rich variety of word order types, movement rules and tonal case, and this research, supported by SSHRC and done within the framework of Chomsky's Government-Binding Theory, was aimed at providing a unified account of this variety), and (2) A Grammar of Kenya Luo (Dholuo) by A.N. Tucker (this work, the editing and completion of one of the most complete grammars ever written of an African language, has been supported by a number of SSHRC grants and has taken over ten years to complete. The final stages took up most of my last sabbatical leave.)

Some of my previous work was in also in the area of computational linguistics. Part of this work, done in collaboration with a mathematician in the Computer Science Department (Derick Wood), and a linguist at UC Santa Cruz (Jorge Hankamer), was an examination of the mathematical models underlying morphological parsers, a search of natural language data for the most difficult parsing problems, the construction of new mathematical models, and the writing and testing of computer programs implementing these models. The work was supported by a SSHRC grant and resulted in several journal articles as well as some functional parsers. More traditionally linguistic in nature was research into the morphology of the Datooga languages. These are Southern Nilotic languages spoken in central Tanzania. The nominal system is of considerable theoretical interest because it displays a nearly completely morphologisation of a phonological contrast common amoung Nilotic language - [Advanced Tongue Root]. This work was done in collaboration with Professor Franz Rottland at the University of Bayreuth

Here is my curriculum vitae.

Last updated May 2008