A Christian College of the Liberal Arts & Sciences

Michael Ahland

Assistant Professor of Linguistics/TESOL

  • 585-567-9477 ext #4770
  • ChC 411
  • Intercultural Studies
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  • BS, University of Missouri, 1992
  •  MA, University of Texas, 2004
  •  PhD, University of Oregon, 2012

As the Assistant Professor of Linguistics and TESOL at Houghton College, I teach a wide variety of linguistics courses (including Introduction to Linguistics, Phonetics, Phonology, Grammar (a Functional-Typological Syntax course), Sociolinguistics, English Grammar, and 1st and 2nd Language Acquisition)  as well as other TESOL courses (including Linguistics for TESOL and a TESOL Practicum).

In addition to my teaching, I am also actively involved in linguistic research.  My primary research interests focus on the documentation, description, and analysis of under-studied and endangered languages from typological, historical, and functional theoretical perspectives. I am committed to moving beyond description and finding explanations for linguistic phenomena through the consideration of language across space and time, evolutionary pathways in grammatical development, typological tendencies, and the social history of speakers within their broader linguistic context. These forces are constantly at work to shape language and must be considered if we hope to understand why language is as it is. I am particularly interested in syntax, historical-comparative work, tone in East-African languages and the ways in which tone and syntax interface, the role of grammatical constructions in marking functional categories and the reconstruction of alignment systems (especially the so-called Marked Nominative pattern).

I have been researching Ethiopian languages since 1999, working primarily in the Ethiopian-Semitic and Omotic families (with some fieldwork in Cushitic and Nilo-Saharan as well). My work has focused on three languages: Mesmes and Amharic (both Ethiopian-Semitic languages) and more recently Northern Mao (an Omotic language).

Ph.D. Dissertation (University of Oregon, Chair: Doris Payne)

A Grammar of Northern Mao (Màwés Aas'è)

Curriculum Vitae

Northern Mao community members working on a pedagogical grammar
The Mao area of Western Ethiopia



2010 Language Death in Mesmes: A Sociolinguistic and Historical-Comparative Examination of a Disappearing Ethiopian-Semitic Language

Selected Articles

2015 (to appear). Subject marking interrupted: Perturbations from the development of Northern Mao’s future tense suffix.  Studies in African Linguistics 44.1 

2013 Degrammaticalization in Northern Mao’s pronominal innovations: from subject prefix to full pronoun 

2012 Review of Muriel Norde's 2009 book Degrammaticalization

2010 Aspects of Northern Mao (Bambassi-Diddesa) phonology

(Published online with sound files)

2009 From topic to subject: Grammatical change in the Amharic possessive construction

2006 Nasal Spreading, Rhinoglottophilia and the Genesis of a Non-Etymological Nasal Consonant in Mesmes