Nathan Sanders

Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Linguistics, Haverford College
with joint appointments at Bryn Mawr College and Swarthmore College

Visiting Scholar
Department of Psychology, Swarthmore College
Dan Grodner (sponsor)

Soon to be an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Toronto! (July 2017)


office:209 Stokes Hall
Haverford College
Haverford PA, 19041
hours:Mon. 1-3pm @Hav.
Fri. 1-3pm @Swat.
(Pearson 114)
phone: 610-896-1703 (shared)

Research Interests

I am interested in: phonology, especially its interface with phonetics and morphology; sign language phonetics; derivational opacity; linguistic typology; ludlings (language games, like Pig Latin); constructed languages (like Esperanto and Klingon), especially their use as an educational tool; Polish and Slavic phonology; historical phonology; mathematical and statistical models of linguistic phenomena; and in general, the physical, biological, and cognitive factors that shape language.

I've most recently been working on the articulatory and perceptual phonetics of more than two dozen sign languages, historical reconstruction methods with sign languages, and the effects of prosody on eye gaze in reading tasks in English.


Spring 2017:
LING H115: Phonetics and Phonology (Haverford)
LING S001: Introduction to Linguistics (Swarthmore)

other courses taught:
syntax, semantics, historical linguistics, linguistic typology and constructed languages, research methods


SB in Mathematics, minor in Linguistics, MIT (1996)
MA and PhD in Linguistics, University of California, Santa Cruz (2000, 2003)
PhD dissertation: Opacity and sound change in the Polish lexicon [ PDF ]

Recent Work

— 2017 —

Sanders, Nathan. 2017 (expected). A modular introduction to phonetics and phonology [tentative title]. Textbook contracted with Oxford University Press.

Sanders, Nathan. 2017. Scales of effort in sign language articulation and perception. Invited talk at the University of Delaware. [ PDF (slides) ]

Sanders, Nathan. 2017. What sign languages tell us about phonetics: Expanding the notion of articulatory effort. Invited talk at the University of Toronto on joint work with Donna Jo Napoli. [ PDF (slides) ]

Sanders, Nathan. 2017. Constructed languages as a bridge to interdisciplinary teaching. Presentation in the Teaching Linguistics with Invented Languages organized session. The 91st Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America. [ PDF (slides) ]

— 2016 —

Sanders, Nathan, and Donna Jo Napoli. 2016. A cross-linguistic preference for torso stability in the lexicon: Evidence from 24 sign languages. Sign Language & Linguistics 19(2). 197–231. [ PDF (preprint) ] [ DOI ]

Sanders, Nathan, and Donna Jo Napoli. 2016. Signs of efficiency: Maintaining torso stability affects sign language vocabulary. Natural History 124(9). 28–32. [ PDF ]

Sanders, Nathan. 2016. Constructed languages in the classroom. Language 92(3). e192–e204. [ DOI ]

Sanders, Nathan, and Donna Jo Napoli. 2016. Reactive effort as a factor that shapes sign language lexicons. Language 92(2). 275–297. [ DOI ]

Sanders, Nathan. 2016. nslxIPA. Unicode IPA keyboard layout and documentation. v1.0. [ website ]

— 2015 —

Sanders, Nathan, and Donna Jo Napoli. 2015. Active and reactive effort in sign language phonetics. Invited talk for the Tri-Lo Linguistics Lecture Series at Swarthmore College. [ PDF (slides) ]

— 2014 —

Sanders, Nathan. 2014. Gradient (dis)harmony: Hidden harmony and anti-harmony. Poster presented at Phonology 2014 (Annual Meetings on Phonology), Massachusetts Institute of Technology. [ PDF (mini-paper) ] [ PDF (poster) ]

Napoli, Donna Jo, Nathan Sanders, and Rebecca Wright. 2014. On the linguistic effects of articulatory ease, with a focus on sign languages. Language 90(2). 424–456. [ DOI ]

Sanders, Nathan. 2006/2014. OTtablx. LaTeX software package and documentation. v0.4. [ website ]

— older work —


• games
• TV shows
• photography

Other Links

• my full CV (PDF)
• OTtablx (beta version), LaTeX package for drawing OT tableaux
• nslxIPA, keyboard layout for IPA symbols on Macs
• Language Log, a linguistics blog
• Jonathan Dowse's awesome clickable IPA chart
• linguistics majors at Williams College