Assistant Professor, Dr. Virginia Dawson

Virginia Dawson in front of a psychedelic silver sculpture

Virginia Dawson at the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania, early 2020.

In fall of 2020, Western's Department of Linguistics welcomed a new tenure-track faculty member, Virginia Dawson, Ph.D.

Dawson, earned her bachelor's degrees in linguistics and Spanish from the Australian National University in 2013. She moved to the U.S. in 2014 to attend the University of California, Berkeley, earning her master's in linguistics in 2016. Dawson earned her doctorate from UCB summer of 2020. Her main research interests lie in semantic and pragmatic theory, with a particular focus on crosslinguistic variation. Questions that particularly excite her include the extent to which disjunction, indefinite articles, and other "logical" words differ across languages, and how semantic theory can be refined to take into account a wider range of typologically diverse languages. The majority of her research centers on her ongoing fieldwork with Tiwa, an understudied Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Assam, India. Dawson began working with the Tiwa community in Umswai, India in 2012 while earning her undergraduate degree, and has returned throughout her graduate studies to continue this research. In addition to her theoretical interests in semantics and pragmatics, Dawson has explored questions in Tiwa morphology and syntax and is working to document Tiwa grammar and use so that it will be preserved for future generations. Dawson is extremely excited to join the Linguistics Department at Western. She is looking forward to teaching semantics and pragmatics and linguistic analysis in the fall, getting to know the students, staff, and faculty, and exploring Bellingham and the surrounding area.