Ryan Lepic

Assistant Professor
Language, Education & Society

Ryan Lepic


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Ryan Lepic is an Assistant Professor in the Linguistics Department.
Ryan's PhD is in Linguistics, from the University of California, San Diego. He has previously taught linguistics courses at UC San Diego and at the LSA Linguistic Institute. His postdoctoral fellowship was at the University of Chicago, on an NSF-funded project to examine the role of co-speech gesture in teaching and learning.
Ryan is hearing, and his research interests are focused on cross-linguistic comparison, and understanding how languages change as they are used over time. His previous research projects have looked at new words in ASL and English, and at the motivated use of the body in signs from unrelated sign languages. He is looking forward to working with undergraduate and graduate students to make linguistics an increasingly inclusive and practical field of research.

I teach courses on the structure of words and theories of human language. I like for students to get "hands on" experience working with linguistic data such as text and videos. I am also interested in the science of teaching and learning as it relates to linguistics. This means my courses are organized around what is known about how people learn and remember information. In general, my goal is for students to develop analytic skills that will be useful no matter what career path they follow.

LIN 595 - Special Topics: Languages of the World (Spring 2021)

LIN 595 - Special Topics: Corpus Linguistics (Fall 2021)

LIN 301 - Introduction to Phonology and Morphology (Fall 2020, Fall 2021)

LIN 302 - Introduction to Syntax and Discourse (Spring 2021)

LIN 721 - Cognitive Linguistics 1 (Fall 2020, Fall 2021)

LIN 732 - Cognitive Linguistics 2 (Spring 2021)

A full list of my publications is available on my personal website. Here is the abstract for a recent paper of mine:

Lepic, Ryan. (2019). A usage-based alternative to "lexicalization" in sign language linguistics. Glossa 4(1), 23. http://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.840

The usage-based framework considers linguistic structure to be emergent from how human languages are used, and shaped by domain-general cognitive processes. This paper appeals to the cognitive processes of chunking, entrenchment, and routinization to explore a usage-based alternative to the structuralist notion of lexicalization, as it has traditionally been used in sign language linguistics. This exploration shows that chunking, entrenchment, and routinization are useful for re-contextualizing three “lexicalization” phenomena sign language linguistics: multiword expressions, fingerspelled words, and morphologically complex signs. An advantage of the usage-based approach for linguistic theory and description is that it anticipates the existence of linguistic constructions that exhibit analyzable internal structure and holistic properties simultaneously. This alternate framing alleviates the burden for sign language linguists to determine whether or not linguistic constructions have become “lexicalized”, and instead directs analysts to focus on the degree to which linguistic constructs are established in any language user’s mental representation of their language.


800 Florida Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002


800 Florida Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002