Pamela Munro


Professor, Linguistics, UCLA

3125 Campbell Hall

office: 360 Royce Hall

UCLA Box 951543

Los Angeles CA 90095-1543


office: 360 Royce Hall


Catherine Willmond and Pamela Munro



My primary research involves the study of all aspects of the grammar of a number of different American Indian languages (currently focusing on Chickasaw, San Lucas Quiavin’ Zapotec and other varieties of Tlacolula Valley Zapotec, Pima, Gabrielino / Tongva / Fernande–o, Lakhota, Tolkapaya Yavapai, and Garifuna, and among others) and language families (especially Muskogean, Uto-Aztecan, Yuman, and Zapotecan) — their syntax, phonology, lexicon, history — both through fieldwork with native speakers and through comparative research and analysis of existing descriptions. In the field of syntax, I am often concerned with problems of agreement, reference, and subjecthood. I consider it vital to make linguistic findings available to native speakers and other interested laymen through accurate, accessible descriptive and pedagogical materials, including dictionaries. I am particularly interested in working out better ways to make dictionaries, since I feel that this process generally illuminates most aspects of grammar.


Selected publications


    Ronald W. Langacker and Pamela Munro. 1975. "Passives and their meaning", Language 51: 789-830.

    Pamela Munro. 1976. Mojave Syntax. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc.

    Katherine Siva Sauvel and Pamela Munro. 1981. Chem'ivillu' (Let's Speak Cahuilla). Los Angeles and Banning, CA: UCLA American Indian Studies Center and Malki Museum Press.

    Pamela Munro and Lynn Gordon. 1982. "Syntactic relations in Western Muskogean: A typological perspective", Language 58: 81-115.

     Maurice L. Zigmond, Curtis G. Booth, and Pamela Munro. 1990. Kawaiisu: Grammar and Dictionary, with Texts. University of California Publications in Linguistics 119.

     Pamela Munro. 1990. "Stress and vowel length in Cupan absolute nominals", IJAL 56: 217-50.

     Pamela Munro (editor); Susan E. Becker, Gina Laura Bozajian, Deborah S. Creighton, Lori E. Dennis, Lisa RenŽe Ellzey, Michelle L. Futterman, Ari B. Goldstein, Sharon M. Kaye, Elaine Kealer, Irene Susanne Veli Lehman, Lauren Mendelsohn, Joseph M. Mendoza, Lorna Profant, and Katherine A. Sarafian. 1991. Slang U. New York: Harmony Books. Excerpted as Pamela Munro, with Susan E. Becker, et al. "Party hats and pirates' dreams", Rolling Stone 600 (March 21, 1991): 67-69.

     Pamela Munro. 1993. "The Muskogean II prefixes and their significance for classification", IJAL 59: 374-404.

     Pamela Munro and Catherine Willmond. 1994. Chickasaw: An Analytical Dictionary. Norman - London: University of Oklahoma Press.

     Pamela Munro and Dieynaba Gaye. 1997. Ay Baati Wolof: A Wolof Dictionary (Revised Edition), UCLA Occasional Papers in Linguistics 19.

     Pamela Munro and Felipe H. Lopez, with Olivia V. MŽndez, Rodrigo Garcia, and Michael R. Galant. 1999. Di'csyonaary X:te'n D“i'zh Sah Sann Lu'uc (San Lucas Quiavin’ Zapotec Dictionary / Diccionario Zapoteco de San Lucas Quiavin’). Chicano Studies Research Center Publications, UCLA.

     William J. Frawley, Kenneth C. Hill, and Pamela Munro, eds. 2002. Making Dictionaries: Preserving Indigenous Languages of the Americas. University of California Press.

     Pamela Munro. "Chickasaw". Native Languages of the Southeastern United States, ed. by H. Hardy and J. Scancarelli (University of Nebraska Press), pp. 114-56.


Languages (and families or stocks / principal speaker locations) on which I've done fieldwork and/or published


Cahuilla (Uto-Aztecan: California), Chemehuevi (Uto-Aztecan: Arizona, California), Cherokee (Iroquoian: Oklahoma, North Carolina), Chickasaw (Muskogean: Oklahoma), Choctaw (Muskogean: Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana), Creek-Seminole (Muskogean: Oklahoma, Florida), Crow (Siouan: Montana), Diegue–o (Yuman: California), Gabrielino / Tongva / Fernande–o (Uto-Aztecan: California), Garifuna (Arawakan: Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua), Georgian (Karvelian: Caucasaus), Hopi (Uto-Aztecan: Arizona), Kawaiisu (Uto-Aztecan: California), Kiche / K'iche' (Mayan: Guatemala), Kiowa (Kiowa-Tanoan: Oklahoma), Lakhota (Siouan: South Dakota), Luise–o (Uto-Aztecan: California), Maricopa (Yuman: Arizona), Mixtec language of San Mateo Tunuchi (Mixtecan; Otomanguean: Oaxaca), Mohave (Yuman: Arizona, California), Navajo (Athabascan: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah), Pima (Uto-Aztecan: Arizona), TŸbatulabal (Uto-Aztecan: California), Wolof (West Atlantic; Niger-Kordofanian: Senegal, Gambia), Yavapai (Yuman: Arizona), Yupik (Eskimo-Aleut: Alaska), Zapotec languages of San Lucas Quiavin’, Macuiltianguis, Tlacolula, and San Juan Guelav’a, as well as Colonial Valley Zapotec [16th-18th century] (Zapotecan; Otomanguean: Oaxaca).


Some ongoing research projects


     San Lucas Quiavin’ Zapotec (Tlacolula Valley Zapotec). (1) Felipe Lopez and I are revising our Zapotec-English-Spanish dictionary (with Brook Danielle Lillehaugen) and completing an edited collection of personal narratives describing speakers' experiences emigrating from Oaxaca to Los Angeles. (For more information, see the now somewhat outdated project web page.) (2) Brook Lillehaugen, Felipe Lopez, and I are continuing work on first-year college Zapotec course, focusing on the language of San Lucas Quiavin’ and Tlacolula, which has been taught at UC San Diego and is now in use at UCLA; I am also editing a Spanish translation of the first two-thirds of the book.

     Chickasaw. Catherine Willmond and I have completed a teaching grammar of Chickasaw versions of which have been used so far in six undergraduate classes at UCLA, to be published in 2009 by the University of Oklahoma Press.

     Other Zapotec projects. (1) With Brook Lillehaugen and others, I am conducting comparative research on the languages of the Tlacolula Valley of Oaxaca. (2) Kevin Terraciano (UCLA, History), Lisa Sousa (Occidental College), Mike Galant (CSU Dominguez Hills), Aaron Sonnenschein (CSULA, CSUN), Brook Lillehaugen, X—chitl Flores Marcial, and I are studying written Zapotec documents from the early Mexican Colonial period.

     UCLA undergraduate slang. I regularly collect slang expressions from UCLA undergraduates for a growing longitudinal database. Every four years I lead a group of undergraduates in preparing a dictionary of current campus slang (the most recent collection (U.C.L.A. Slang 5) was published in 2005; the next such publication will be in Spring 2009).

     Pima. Virgil Lewis and are revising a book of lessons originally written with a number of University of California graduate students that was used in 2007-08 in UCLA Linguistics 114.

     Gabrielino / Tongva / Fernande–o. I am revising a dictionary based on notes by J. P. Harrington and others, and preparing lessons on the language, working with a group of heritage learners.

     Tolkapaya Yavapai. Based on work with the late Molly Fasthorse, I am working on a dictionary and grammatical sketch of Tolkapaya (Western) Yavapai.

     Wolof. Dieynaba Gaye and I are revising our second preliminary version of the first Wolof-English dictionary.

     Comparative Muskogean. George Aaron Broadwell, Emanuel J. Drechsel, Heather K. Hardy, Geoffrey D. Kimball, Jack Martin, and I (with assistance by others) are compiling an analytical collection of cognate sets from languages of the Muskogean family.

     The Christmas Story.  As often as I can, I work with a speaker of an indigenous language of the Americas to translate Luke 2: 1, 3-20 into that language. Most recently the Christmas story was retold in Kiche by Pedro Garcia Mantanic, and I wrote a new version in Gabrielino / Tongva.




     I regularly teach UCLA undergraduate courses on American Indian linguistics (Linguistics 114, which includes coverage of the structure of Chickasaw presented in collaboration with Catherine Willmond or Pima in collaboration with Virgil Lewis, and a continuation of this class, Linguistics 191B), historical linguistics (Linguistics 110), field methods (Linguistics 160), and slang (Linguistics 88A); in recent years I have also taught beginning phonology (Linguistics 120A).

     I regularly teach UCLA graduate courses in field methods (Linguistics 210AB); from time to time I teach graduate courses on the structure of various language families (e.g. Muskogean, Siouan, Zapotecan), dictionary making, and other special topics.

     I work individually with graduate and undergraduate students in Linguistics, as well as graduate students in Applied Linguistics and American Indian Studies.

     I am proud to have served as the advisor or co-advisor for UCLA Ph.D.s in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics whose dissertations preserve vital information on endangered American indigenous languages, including Heriberto Avelino (Yal‡lag Zapotec), George Aaron Broadwell (Choctaw), Harold D. Crook (Nez Perce), John Foreman (Macuiltianguis Zapotec), Lynn Gordon (Maricopa), Heather K. Hardy (Tolkapaya Yavapai), Eric M. Jackson (Pima), Felicia A. Lee (San Lucas Quiavin’ Zapotec), Brook Danielle Lillehaugen (Tlacolula de Matamoros Zapotec), Jean Mulder (Tsimshian), Doris L. Payne (Yagua), Brian C. Potter (Western Apache), Janine L. Scancarelli (Cherokee), Charles H. Ulrich (Choctaw), Cynthia A. Walker (Chickasaw), Karen K. Wallace (Crow), and Robert S. Williams (Choctaw). (I'm also proud of my other Ph.D. students, including Susanna Cumming, Hyo Sang Lee, Rachel Lagunoff, Michaela Safadi, Stephan Schuetze-Coburn, Marian Shapley, and Isaiah Yoo.) Likewise, my master's students with theses on American languages in Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, and American Indian Studies, including Janet Scott Batchler (Chickasaw), Janine Ekulona (Garifuna), Eric M. Jackson (Pima), Brook D. Lillehaugen (Valley Zapotec), Olivia V. MŽndez (San Lucas Quiavin’ Zapotec), Alicia Moretti (Assiniboine), Angela Rodel (Lakhota), Rina Shapira (Pima), and Marcus A. Smith (Pima), as well as Christopher Adam (who wrote on Santo Domingo Albarradas Zapotec at CSU Northridge) and Christina Foreman (who wrote on a non-indigenous-language-related topic).

     Please email me for information about our department's weekly American Indian Linguistics seminar, at which linguists and others from a number of UCLA departments and other institutions informally present ongoing research.