Brian W. Smith

about me

Welcome! I’m a phonologist and postdoctoral scholar at the USC Department of Linguistics. Below, you can read more about my research and teaching. My CV can be found at this link or on the sidebar.

office hours for spring 2020

Mondays and Tuesdays 10am–11am in GFS 301C


My research interests:

  • Experimental phonology
  • Intraspeaker variation
  • Computational modeling
  • Lexical variation
  • Optimality Theory
  • Phonotactics

papers and manuscripts

selected talks and posters


I've been lucky to teach linguistics at USC, UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Berkeley. Here are some syllabi for my previous courses.



I went to high school in Ocean City, NJ, in south South Jersey. I traveled north to attend Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, where I majored in French and Linguistics. My French is a bit rouillé. For graduate school, I went to UMass Amherst. My dissertation is about phonologically-conditioned allomorphy and UR constraints, and it was advised by Joe Pater. After (and partially during) graduate school, I was a lecturer in the linguistics department at UCLA for two years, teaching phonology, phonetics, and sociolinguistics. Since then, I’ve taught at UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley, and USC.


My non-academic interests are all drawn from the set of quaint, old-timey things people like to do in New England: contra dancing, traditional folk music, Sacred Harp singing, knitting and fiber arts. I also love classical music and music history. My favorite composers don't really form a natural class, except they're mostly 20th century and American/French/Russian (sometimes all three, like Stravinsky). Here's a list of favorites: Debussy, Gershwin, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Shostakovich. My favorite piece of music is probably the second movement of Rachmaninoff's piano concerto no. 4. I also enjoy gaming of varieties both video and board.

my english

I come from South Jersey, specifically the Jersey Shore, where people say things like "jimmies", "shoobies", "hoagies", and "water ice". Coastal South Jersey English sounds a lot like Philadelphia English, but it has some (I think) distinctive features. Here's a little description of Brian's English, which I wrote for a class on dialects.