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, phonetically-informed historical reconstruction for sign languages, the effects of prosody on eye gaze in reading tasks in English, the history of language construction, and linguistics pedagogy.
Working with Keren Rice and Naomi Nagy, I am the lead Principal Investigator for our project titled "Innovations in Linguistic Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Linguistics Curriculum and Beyond", in which we are developing course materials and pedagogical methods concerning linguistic injustice and biases.
I've also designed two new educational games for learning the International Phonetic Alphabet: IPA Discard (rules, cards), a shedding card game based on Crazy Eights (Uno) for learning IPA consonants; and IPA Hunt (rules and playsheet), a guessing game based on Battleship for learning IPA vowels.
PhD dissertation: Opacity and sound change in the Polish lexicon[ PDF ]
Current and Recent Work
Sanders, Nathan, Lex Konnelly, and Pocholo Umbal. 2020. Building equity, diversity and inclusion in courses: A case study in linguistics. Talk given at Faculty of Arts & Science Teaching & Learning Community of Practice, University of Toronto. [ PDF (slides) ]
Sanders, Nathan, Pocholo Umbal, and Lex Konnelly. 2020. Methods for increasing equity, diversity, and inclusion in linguistics pedagogy. Talk given at Congrès annuel de l’Association canadienne de linguistique 2020 | 2020 annual meeting of the Canadian Linguistic Association. [ PDF (slides) ][ PDF (proceedings) ][ YouTube (talk, 30m16s) ]
Sanders, Nathan, with host Michelle Garcia-Vega. Forthcoming. Why we do historical linguistics. Word to the Whys podcast episode. TILCoP Canada.
Sanders, Nathan, Keren Rice, and Naomi Nagy (principle investigators). In progress. Linguistic equity, diversity, and inclusion in the linguistics curriculum and beyond. Learning and Education Advancement Fund project, University of Toronto.
Sanders, Nathan, and Peter Jurgec (principle investigators). In progress. Constructing naturalistic linguistic data for the classroom. Advanced Teaching and Learning in Arts & Science project, University of Toronto.
Sanders, Nathan and Adrian Zhao. In progress. Phonogenesis: An online tool for generating novel phonological data. Website.
Sanders, Nathan. In progress. Linguistics Quick Reference Guide. Concord, ON: Permacharts.
Napoli, Donna Jo, and Nathan Sanders. In progress. Iconicity and biomechanics in the historical reconstruction of sign languages: A case study of the movement parameter in the Old LSF family. [ PDF (draft) ]
Sanders, Nathan. In progress. A modular introduction to phonetics and phonology [tentative title]. Oxford University Press.
Knowles, Rebecca, and Nathan Sanders. In progress. Data driven approaches. In Nancy Ritter and Harry van der Hulst (eds.), Handbook of vowel harmony. Oxford University Press.
Sanders, Nathan. 2018. Articulation versus perception in sign language movement. Invited talk given at Gallaudet University. [ PDF (slides) ]
Sanders, Nathan. 2018. Some issues in the perceptual phonetics of sign language: Motion-in-depth and the horizontal-vertical illusion. Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics 40. Special issue from the CRC-Sponsored Phonetics/Phonology Workshops. [ PDF ]
Sanders, Nathan. 2018. Articulatory and perceptual patterns in sign language lexicons. Keynote speech at the 11th Annual Toronto Undergraduate Linguistics Conference [TULCon11]. [ PDF (slides) ]
Sanders, Nathan. 2018. A case study in teaching linguistics to middle school students with language-based learning differences. Poster presentation in Expanding the Reach of Linguistics: Collaborations with Other Disciplines and Beyond, organized session at the 92nd Annual Meeting of the Linguistics Society of America. [ PDF (poster) ][ PDF (materials) ]
Sanders, Nathan. 2017. Some issues in the perceptual phonetics of sign language: Motion-in-depth and the horizontal-vertical illusion. Talk given at the 2017 CRC-Sponsored Summer Phonetics/Phonology Workshop at the University of Toronto. [ PDF (handout) ]
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 Teaching Linguistics with Invented Languages, organized session at the 91st Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America. [ PDF (slides) ]
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, 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) ]
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 ]
Harrison, K. David, Nathan Sanders, Rachel Killackey, Kathryn Montemurro, and Peter Nilsson. 2012. The Tuvan Machine Translation Project.
Sanders, Nathan, and K. David Harrison. 2012. Discovering new vowel harmony patterns using a pairwise statistical model. Poster presented at the 20th Manchester Phonology Meeting, University of Manchester.
Napoli, Donna Jo, Nathan Sanders, and Rebecca Wright. 2011. Some aspects of ease of articulation in American Sign Language. Invited talk given at Stony Brook University. [ PDF (handout) ]
Sanders, Nathan, and Jaye Padgett. 2009. Exploring the role of production in predicting vowel inventories. Talk given at the 83rd Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America. [ PDF (handout) ]
Cerny, Jacob, Christopher Paci, and Nathan Sanders. 2009. Towards a classification of the northern Berkshires dialect of American English. Poster presented at the 83rd Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America. [ PDF (poster) ]
Sanders, Nathan, and Jaye Padgett. 2008. Articulatory parameters in a dispersion-focalization model of vowel systems. Talk given at the UC Santa Cruz Linguistics Alumni Conference. [ PDF (handout) ]
Sanders, Nathan, and Jaye Padgett. 2008. Predicting vowel inventories from a dispersion-focalization model: New results. Papers from the 44th Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistics Society. [ PDF ]
Sanders, Nathan. 2006. Strong lexicon optimization. Talk given at Umass Phonology Group. [ PDF (handout) ]
Sanders, Nathan. 2004. Opacity from contrast: Neutral segments in harmony systems. Talk given at the 12th Manchester Phonology Meeting, University of Manchester. [ PDF (handout) ]