Joyce McDonough

Joyce M. McDonough


  • Richard L. Turner Professor
  • Professor of Linguistics
  • Acting Department Chair, AY23-24

PhD, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 1990

Office Location
505 Lattimore Hall

Office Hours: By appointment

Curriculum Vitae


Current Projects


The broad goal of this work is the investigation of the mental lexicon in languages with complex morphologies based on information in the speech signal. The primary focus in the structure of the verbal complex in the Athabaskn (Dene) languages, held to be a classic example of 'polysynthesis'.

Recent work:

When segmentation helps: Implicative structure and morph boundaries in the Navajo verb. Olivier Bonami, Joyce McDonough and Sacha Beniamine, submitted to ISMo 2017.

How to Use Young and Morgan's The Navajo Language: Part 1, the Dictionary. Tutorial

Coding of speech patterns in the brain

This research is a collaboration with PI Laurel Carney (BME) and Carney's Auditory Neuroscience Lab. The long-term goal of this work is to understand and model the neural representation of speech in the auditory pathway to further understand the code input to cognitive linguistic behavior.

Recent publications:

Nonlinear auditory models yield new insights into representations of vowels. L Carney & JM McDonough (2018). Attention Perception and Psychophysics. DOI: 10.3758/s13414-018-01644-w.

Speech Coding in the Brain: Representation of Vowel Formants by Midbrain Neurons Tuned to Sound Fluctuations. Laurel H. Carney, Tianhao Li, Joyce M. McDonough. eNeuro. 2015; 10.1523/ENEURO.0004-15.2015


BME\LING 206: Speech on the Brain, spring term (Laurel Carney and Joyce McDonough)

Field Phonetics and the documentation of speech patterns in under-resourced communities

Fundamental to lingusitic research in every component of linguistics is the existence of empirical data on the sound forms, especially the documentation of phonetic structure. Without instrumental phonetic descriptions and analyses, available for all better studied languages, linguistics descriptions and analyses are dependent on written forms.

Recent work:

Taking the Laboratory into the Field. D H Whalen & Joyce McDonough. Annual Review of Linguistics 2016.

A gestural account of the velar fricative in Navajo. Khalil Iskarous, Joyce McDonoughb & D H Whalen, Laboratory Phonology 3 (2012), 195 – 210.

Dene Speech Atlas: Seeds for the Future. (NSF#0853929). Online atlas of the phonemes and sound patterns of the Dene languages of the Mackenzie River Basin and surrounding areas.


LING 210: Language Sound Structures, fall term
LING 227: Topics in Phonetics and Phonology, spring term

Research Overview

Research Interests

  • Phonetics, phonology and morphology and their interfaces
  • Laboratory phonology
  • Dene (Athabaskan) linguistics
  • Neural coding of vowels (w Laurel Carney)

Courses Offered (subject to change)

  • LING 210 / 410:  Introduction to Language Sound Systems
  • LING 227 / 427:  Topics in Phonetics and Phonology
  • LING 226 / 426:  Morphology
  • BME\LING 216 / 416:  Speech on the Brain

Selected Publications

Selected Papers