Fey Parrill, Ph.D.
I'm a cognitive psycholinguist who specializes in multimodal language use. To find out what that means and how I got there, read on...
I've been interested in language ever since I was a kid. In college (at UC Berkeley) I started out as a Russian major, but then discovered linguistics. Rather than looking at individual languages, linguists study language as a system--how languages work, what they share, how they differ, etc. Many of the linguists at Berkeley were also interested in using language to understand how humans think, one of the main goals of cognitive linguistics. That idea really intrigued me. I began to study things like conceptual metaphor, blending, frame semantics and construction grammar. In the middle of all that, I attended a lecture given by Eve Sweetser, in which she described the gestures people produce while they're talking. It was immediately clear that these gestures are very closely tied to language, and that to study language without looking at them was to ignore half the available information about the language-cognition link. So when the time came to go off to graduate school, I went to the University of Chicago, the place with the largest concentration of gesture researchers in the US. At Chicago, I studied with David McNeill and Susan Goldin-Meadow. Because life was just too easy, I decided to get a joint PhD in linguistics and psychology. While I loved linguistics, I wanted to learn about the psychological processes involved in producing and understanding language, or psycholinguistics. Psycholinguistics incorporates aspects of cognition like categorization, memory, and attention into the study of language. In 2006, I joined Case Western Reserve University's Department of Cognitive Science.
I'm from Santa Fe, New Mexico, where, contrary to popular belief, it snows. I live in Cleveland Heights with my family. The top floor of our house is a studio where we like to hang out and make things.