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Christopher V. Odato

Postdoctoral Fellow
Program in Linguistics, Lawrence University
christopher . odato @ lawrence . edu
curriculum vitae

I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Program in Linguistics at Lawrence University. I completed my Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of Michigan in 2010.

Courses that I teach at Lawrence include LING 120: Language & Discrimination, LING 325: Introduction to Sociolinguistics, LING 355: Child Language Acquisition, and LING 150: Introduction to Linguistics, as well as Freshman Studies. Follow the link above for more detailed course descriptions.

My research interests are primarily in sociolinguistics and language acquisition, including language variation, discourse analysis, language attitudes and ideologies, and the acquisition of sociolinguistic competence. I also have continuing interests in child language acquisition and syntactic theory.

Christopher V. Odato


The theoretical focus of my research is on understanding the nature of the interaction between (formal) linguistic knowledge and knowledge of the social world—an interaction that underlies sociolinguistic behavior (i.e., the production and evaluation of variable linguistic forms). My dissertation research comprised two complementary studies examining children’s use and knowledge about the use of like as a discourse marker/particle and as a quotative marker, one analyzing spontaneous speech and one experimental. My current research explores the relationship between grammatical and social processing of language variation, asking whether grammatical information is taken into account in making social judgments about speakers on the basis of linguistic behavior and conversely, whether social information about speakers is taken into account in real-time sentence processing. In earlier work we examined how the expectations that people have about different types of speakers and speech situations influence their perception of the relevance and topicality of narratives.

This page is a work in progress. Until it is updated, please look over my publications and presentations to get a sense of my research.

Christopher V. Odato


The following are the linguistics courses that I teach at Lawrence, including the descriptions from the course catalog and the terms that they will next be offered (if applicable). Syllabi from past courses are provided for informational purposes only; future course offerings will almost certainly differ to some degree from earlier versions of the course.

LING 120: Language and Discrimination
This course examines language as a potential site of social statement and, sometimes, social conflict, particularly with respect to questions of “race” and ethnicity. We will explore language-based discrimination, beliefs about language and language variation, and ways language is used to construct and reflect social identities and social group boundaries.
This course fulfills the Dimensions of Diversity requirement.
[Winter 2011 syllabus] [Spring 2012 syllabus]

LING 325: Introduction to Sociolinguistics
This course presents an introduction to sociolinguistics, a discipline within linguistics concerned with systematic investigation of language in relation to the social world. Topics include language variation and change, social identity and language use, linguistic diversity, and language ideologies. We will also practice methods for collecting and analyzing sociolinguistic data. Spring 2013
[Spring 2011 syllabus] [Fall 2011 syllabus]

LING 355: Child Language Acquisition
Every normally developing human acquires language in early childhood. This course explores how this feat is accomplished. We will examine data on children’s linguistic knowledge at different developmental stages and what types of theories might explain these data. Students will also have the opportunity to analyze real child language data.
[Winter 2012 syllabus]

LING 150: Introduction to Linguistics
Introduction to theory and methods of linguistics: universal properties of human language; phonetic, phonological, morphological, syntactic, and semantic structures and analysis; nature and form of grammar.

Christopher V. Odato


Children’s Development of Knowledge and Beliefs about English like(s)
Committee: Deborah Keller-Cohen (chair), Robin Queen, Carmel O’Shannessy, Holly Craig


Submitted/Under review: Odato, C.V. Linking linguistic features and social information: Children’s acquisition of grammatical and social knowledge about U.S. English like.

Accepted/Under revision: Odato, C.V. The development of children’s use of discourse like in peer interaction. To appear in American Speech.

Odato, C. V. & Keller-Cohen, D. (2010). Evaluating the speech of older adults: Age, gender, and speech situation. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 28(4), 457-475.

Demuth, K., Machobane, M., Moloi, F. & Odato, C. 2005. Learning animacy hierarchy effects in Sesotho double object applicatives. Language 81(2), 421-447.

Demuth, K., Machobane, M., Moloi, F. & Odato, C. 2002. Rule learning and lexical frequency effects in learning verb-argument structure. Proceedings of the 26th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. 142-153.

Conference Presentations

Is social evaluation sensitive to linguistic constraints on variation? The examples of LIKE and /r/. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America. Boston, MA. January 4, 2014.

Assessing competence and performance in children’s acquisition of innovative like. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America. Portland, OR. January 7, 2012.

Experimentally assessing Children’s grammatical knowledge and social beliefs about like. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America. Pittsburgh, PA. January 8, 2011.

Children’s use of vernacular functions of like in peer conversation. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America. Baltimore, MD. January 9, 2010.

Children’s acquisition of the variable like as a discourse marker and discourse particle. Paper presented at NWAV 38. University of Ottawa. October 25, 2009.

(with Deborah Keller-Cohen) Relevance in the eye of the beholder: How, and when, does age matter in evaluating speech? Paper presented at NWAV 37. Houston, TX. November 9, 2008.

(with Deborah Keller-Cohen) Talk too much? Age and speech situation in evaluating others’ speech: Off-target verbosity revisited. Paper presented at the 11th International Conference on Language and Social Psychology. Tucson, AZ. July 18, 2008.

(with Deborah Keller-Cohen) Revisiting off-target verbosity: Speech situation and speaker identity. Poster presented at the Cognitive Aging Conference. Atlanta, GA. April 12, 2008.

(with Deborah Keller-Cohen) The effect of age, gender and context on evaluations of topic and relevance: Some problems for language and cognition. Paper presented at the 2nd Biennial Midwestern Conference on Culture, Language and Cognition. Northwestern University. May 12, 2007.

What if Valley Girls were smart? Mallspeak and college students’ (in)articulateness. Paper presented at the 27th Annual Ethnography and Education Research Forum. University of Pennsylvania. February 24, 2006.

Invited Talks

Children’s developing knowledge of grammatical and social constraints on innovative like: Evidence for modularity of syntactic and social processing of language variation. Linguistics Department Colloquium. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. March 2, 2012.

Assembling sociolinguistic competence: Assessing multiple components of children’s developing knowledge of language variation. Human Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University. January 27, 2012.

How does like, like, develop? Examining children’s developing knowledge of the grammatical and social distribution of innovative like. Lawrence University. May 18, 2010.

Young children and like. Invited guest lecture, Linguistics 394: Language and Gender. February 8, 2010.

Relevance in the eye of the beholder: How does age matter in the evaluation of speech? Department of Linguistics colloquium. University of Michigan. March 7, 2008.

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