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Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

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D. Eric Holt

Title: Associate Professor of Spanish
Spanish Graduate Advisor
Department: Languages, Literatures and Cultures
College of Arts and Sciences
Office: J. Welsh Humanities Bldg, 717
Resources: Curriculum Vitae [pdf]
Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
Linguistics Program
D. Eric Holt, Spanish, Linguistics

My academic interests are varied, and encompass many areas, including Hispanic linguistics, phonological theory, historical linguistics, dialectology, language variation and change, Hispanic sociolinguistics, and language acquisition (particularly of pronunciation by English-speaking learners of Spanish).

My research interests lie in phonological theory, especially as a tool for understanding aspects of the sound structure of Spanish, both modern synchronic and historical diachronic, including dialect variation past and present. A common theme to be found in my work is the application and development of issues in general linguistic theory to Spanish and dialectal data, thus providing me the opportunity to offer refinements both to previous analyses of the data and to the theory more broadly. Other work of mine has treated aspects of dialectal and historical variation, including ‘sporadic sound changes’ like metathesis and intrusive stop formation. Beginning in 2008, I began conducting and presenting research on the acquisition of connected speech phenomena in Spanish by English–speaking learners.

My dissertation research and following publications and presentations focused on the application of Optimality Theory to historical change (most significantly, Optimality Theory and Language Change, Kluwer, 2003) and the evolution of Latin into Spanish and Portuguese, as well as to revisiting several aspects of synchronic phonological structure and linguistic variation. An additional focus of my research – really an extension of my interest in Spanish phonology and my involvement with teacher training – looks at the various contextual and linguistic factors that play a role in the acquisition of Spanish pronunciation by speakers of English.

My teaching interests span these areas as well, and courses I’ve developed or taught have covered Spanish/Hispanic linguistics (phonetics, phonology and pronunciation; structure of the language (morphology and syntax); history and dialectology); historical linguistics; phonology; linguistic theory; Optimality Theory; Spanish language, composition, stylistics and culture; and pronunciation workshops.

Dissertation and other research supervision:

  • Director, Reagan Borland’s Honors College thesis, to be completed spring 2024.
  • Reader, Scott Brewer, Linguistics Program PhD dissertation, (Goblisrch, director) (anticipated completion, May 2024)
  • Reader, Michael Highlander, Linguistics Program PhD dissertation, (Goblisrch, director) (anticipated completion, December 2023)
  • Director, Burcu Gökgöz-Kurt’s Linguistics Program PhD dissertation, Attention Control and the Effects of Online Training in Improving Connected Speech Perception by English as a Second Language Learners. Defended April 13, 2016.
  • Reader, Raed Alguthami’s Linguistics Program PhD dissertation, Visual word recognition by Arabic ESL learners: Phonological versus orthographic consonantal influence on vowels. Defended March 16, 2016.
  • Reader, Lauren Allen’s Honors College thesis, completed spring 2013.
  • Director, Alejandra Madrigal’s Spanish MA thesis, ¿Qué pasa USA?: The evolution of the Spanish language and the growing generation gap within the Cuban family of Miami. (Defended spring 2011.)
  • Reader, Changyong Liao’s Linguistics Program PhD dissertation, Acquisition of complex codas in L2 English: Phonological pattern and gesture coordination in word-final consonant deletion. (Defended August 2009)
  • Reader, Leah Lindsey’s Spanish Program MA thesis, Linguistic and Cultural Markedness in Las películas de mi vida by Alberto Fuguet. (Defended November 2007.)
  • Reader, Carla Breidenbach’s Linguistics Program PhD dissertation, Deconstructing Mock Spanish: A Multidisciplinary Analysis of Mock Spanish as Racism, Humor, or Insult. 2006.
  • Reader, Craig Callender’s Linguistics Program PhD dissertation, Gemination in West Germanic. 2006.
  • Director, Tomo Akiyama’s Linguistics Program Master’s Thesis, Acquisition of L2 Phonological System: Spelling English Words with Japanese Syllabics. Spring and summer 2004.
  • Director, Rulai Li’s Linguistics Program Master’s Enhanced Seminar Paper, Resyllabification of English loan words in Chinese: an Optimality account. 2002.
  • Director, Larry L. LaFond’s Linguistics Program PhD dissertation, The pro-drop parameter revisited: A developmental account. 2001.
  • Director, Amber McKenzie’s Linguistics Program MA thesis. Spring 2008. (in fall switched to non-thesis option)
  • Director, H. Taryn Yum’s Linguistics Program MA thesis. Spring 2008. (in fall switched to non-thesis option)
  • Co-director (with Prof. Emerita Carol Myers-Scotton), Raquel Blazquez Domingo’s Linguistics Program PhD dissertation. 2007-. (never completed)


  • Sim, Rok. (2023) A Vestige-Theory Approach to the Variable Assimilation Pattern in Korean Nasal-Liquid Sequences. To be presented at NWAV 51 (Queens College, October 2023). (From work in LING 711, fall 2022, with Tegan Guillebeau.)
  • Chen, Jinmei. (2021) The revival of Spanish through Hispano-Filipino literature in the Philippines. Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, volume 517, Proceedings of the 6th Annual International Conference on Social Science and Contemporary Humanity Development (SSCHD 2020). Atlantis Press SARL, 166-170. Open access article distributed under the CC BY-NC 4.0 license - (Building on course paper from SPAN 715 History of the Spanish Language.)
  • Song, Jiyeon, & Dalola, Amanda. (2018) CrispEdge in Korean /n/-insertion. Poster presented at the 7th International Conference on Phonology and Morphology. Seoul, South Korea. (From work in LING 711 Phonology theory, fall 2017.)
  • Fahey, Danielle (2016). (From work in LING 711 Phonology theory, fall 2015).  “Vowel production in simultaneous bilingual child language: An optimality theoretic account.” Poster presented at the Bilingualism Forum, University of Illinois at Chicago, October 20-21, 2016.
  • Burcu Gökgöz-Kurt, Julie Medlin & Ashley Tessarolo, LING PhD and MA students. (From work in LING 890/SPAN 783, fall 2011.)
    • “The perception of prosodically ambiguous intonation patterns by L2 English learners and the effects of instruction.” Proceedings of the International Symposium on the Acquisition of Second Language Speech. Concordia Working Papers in Applied Linguistics, Volume 5, March 2014, pp. 353-372. Previously presented at New Sounds 2013, Concordia University, May 17-19, 2013.
    • Gökgöz-Kurt, B. & Julie Medlin. “The role of explicit intonation instruction in learner communicative competence in L2 classroom.” TESOL and Applied Linguistics Graduate Student Symposium (TALGS) February, 16, 2013, Eastern Carolina University, Greenville, NC. Benjamin Beaver, “Hiatus resolution and semantic loss: Trends in Spanish subjunctive/indicative contrasts”, 2nd annual Hispanic & Luso-Brazilian Linguistics conference, Arizona State University, February 22-23, 2013.
  • Wei Cheng, LING PhD student: (LING 711 Phonology theory, fall 2012)
    • “Why are English voiced obstruent codas difficult for Mandarin-speaking learners? A bi-directional OT account.” Concordia Working Papers in Applied Linguistics, Volume 5, March 2014, pp 99-114. Previously presented at New Sounds 2013, Concordia University, May 17-19, 2013.-
    • “The acquisition of English lexical stress by advanced Chinese speakers: An Optimality Theoretic account.” (From work in LING 890, fall 2011.) Presented at the Second Language Research Forum, Carnegie Mellon University, October 18-21, 2012. USC Graduate Student Day 2012, Poster 3 Humanities 2nd place winner.
  • Minta M. Elsman (Linguistics): (From work in LING 711, Phonological Theory, fall 2006)
    • “When Small Words Collide: Morphological Reduction and Phonological Compensation in Old Leonese Contractions. Little Words: Their history, phonology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and acquisition. Ronald Leow, Héctor Campos, and Donna Lardiere, eds. Georgetown University Press, 2009. 21-33.
    •  “Intersecting Paradigms: Preposition + Article Contraction and Leveling in Medieval Castile”, 52nd Meeting of the International Linguistic Association, New York City, March 30-April 1, 2007. (With D. Eric Holt.)
    • “An OT Analysis of Preposition + Article Contraction (and Leveling) in Medieval Castile”, Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics (GURT): Small words: Their history, phonology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and acquisition. Washington, DC, March 8-11, 2007. (With D. Eric Holt.)
  • Chary-Sy Copeland (Spanish): “Pollito Chicken: un estudio lingüístico,” Dept. of Spanish & Portuguese graduate student conference, John Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, March 26-27, 2004. (From work for SPAN 515, Introduction to Spanish Linguistics, 2003.)
  • Matt Ciscel (Linguistics): “Subjectification and the Shading Particle in German,” Southeastern Conference on Linguistics (SECOL) LXIX, April 5-7, 2001, Knoxville, TN. (Stems from work originated in LING 730, Historical Linguistics, spring 2000.)
  • Larry LaFond (Linguistics Program; from work for LING 730, spring 2000):
    • “Something from nothing: Historical changes from null to overt pronouns in French,” in D. Eric Holt, ed., Optimality Theory and Language Change, 387-412. 2003.
    • “Understanding diachronic changes from null to overt pronouns in French,” 75th Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, January 4-7, 2001, Washington, DC.
  • Mila Tasseva-Kurktchieva (Linguistics Program; from work for LING 730, spring 2000):
    • “The spread of the imperfective 1st person singular and plural inflections to the perfective conjugations in modern Bulgarian,” Annual Conference on Slavic Cognitive Linguistics, November 3-4, 2000, UNC, Chapel Hill.
  • Catherine Smith (Spanish):
    • “Comparing Sign Languages in Hispanic Countries,” Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research, Amsterdam, July 22-27, 2000.
    • “On the history and evolution of signed languages in the Hispanic world,” USC Historical Linguistics Research Group (HLRG), November 12, 1999. (Both stem from work originally begun for SPAN 515, Introduction to Spanish Linguistics, fall 1998.)


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