Judith Aissen

Judith Aissen
EducationHarvard University, PhD, Linguistics, 1974
Known forMayan languages, syntax, morphology

Judith Lillian Aissen (born 4 June 1948) is a professor emerita in linguistics at the University of California, Santa Cruz.[1]


Aissen began to study Mayan languages in 1972 as a graduate student at Harvard University,[2] conducting field research in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas.[2] Her 1974 Harvard dissertation on The Syntax of Causative Constructions[3] was published by Garland in 1979.[2] She joined the faculty of the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1983.[2]

Aissen is particularly known for her analysis of Tzotzil and other Mayan languages having abstract obviation systems akin to those described in Algonquian languages[4] as well as for her work on differential object marking. Since 1995, she has been making trips to Chiapas to teach workshops in syntax to linguistics students who are native Mayan language speakers.

Awards and distinctions

On January 3, 2008, she became a fellow of the Linguistic Society of America.[5][6] In 2011, Aissen's colleagues at University of California, Santa Cruz organized a festschrift in her honor, entitled Representing Language: Essays in Honor of Judith Aissen.[7] In 2018, she was awarded the Linguistic Society of America's Kenneth L. Hale award "for her energetic documentation of Tzotzil and other Mayan languages, her success at bringing these languages to bear on linguistic theory, and her commitment to the nurturing of Indigenous linguists."[8]

Selected publications


  • Aissen, Judith. The syntax of causative constructions. Vol. 10. Garland Pub., 1979.
  • Aissen, Judith. Tzotzil clause structure. Vol. 7. Springer Science & Business Media, 2012.


  • Aissen, Judith, and David M. Perlmutter. "Clause reduction in Spanish." Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society. Vol. 2. 1976.
  • Aissen, Judith. "Topic and focus in Mayan." Language (1992): 43-80.
  • Aissen, Judith. "On the syntax of obviation". Language. 73 (1997): 705–750. ISSN 1535-0665. doi:10.1353/lan.1997.0042
  • Aissen, Judith. "Markedness and subject choice in Optimality Theory." Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 17.4 (1999): 673-711.
  • Aissen, Judith. "Differential object marking: Iconicity vs. economy." Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 21.3 (2003): 435-483.


  1. ^ "Faculty Directory". linguistics.ucsc.edu. Retrieved 2017-09-04.
  2. ^ a b c d Rappaport, Scott; 459-2496, Staff Writer. "Saving Endangered Languages". UC Santa Cruz News. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  3. ^ "Harvard Linguistics Alumni 1970s". linguistics.fas.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  4. ^ "judith aissen - Google Scholar". scholar.google.com. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  5. ^ Scott Rappaport (13 January 2008). "Judith Aissen named Fellow of Linguistic Society of America". Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  6. ^ "LSA Fellows By Name | Linguistic Society of America". www.linguisticsociety.org. Retrieved 2017-09-03.
  7. ^ Rodrigo, Gutiérrez-Bravo,; Line, Mikkelsen,; Eric, Potsdam, (2011-06-15). "Representing Language: Essays in Honor of Judith Aissen". Linguistics Research Center (0-9836–9380-3).CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  8. ^ "Award Winners Announced: Early Career Award, Kenneth L. Hale Award, & Linguistics, Language, and the Public Award | Linguistic Society of America". www.linguisticsociety.org. Retrieved 2019-03-01.

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