Suzanne Evans Wagner

Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics, Michigan State University

wagnersu AT, B-401 Wells Hall, 517 355-9739


11/14/2016. A core value of Michigan State University is advancing an inclusive campus. As an MSU professor, I am committed to continually making my research group and my classroom more welcoming, open places. Linguistics is a diverse discipline, both intellectually and socially. The Linguistic Society of America supports linguistic and social diversity. As a member of the Society, I strive to abide by its guidelines.

I'm a sociolinguist. I study the social meaning attached to linguistic variation, with the goal of understanding what motivates linguistic change. I'm especially interested in the extent to which individuals do or do not participate in ongoing community linguistic change across the lifespan, and how we can differentiate this from age grading. I look in particular at the period between late adolescence and early adulthood, and the ways in which an individual's life trajectory, gender, social class and ethnicity influence participation in change. Some of this work has been featured in the media.

In pursuit of answers to these questions, I examine variation and change at the community level as well as the individual level, and at multiple levels of the grammar. I'm working with Gillian Sankoff and Sali Tagliamonte on morphosyntactic change in French and English. With Daniel Hasty, Kali Bybel and Ashley Hesson and with other students, I've worked on sociolinguistic variables at the intersection of syntactic variation and discourse-pragmatic variation. Starting with my dissertation research, I've been tracking phonetic/phonological variation in the speech of young women in Philadelphia, and I'll be writing this up in book form soon. Since 2013, I've been working with William Labov on a comparative study of change in individual phonology in Philadelphia and Michigan. The common thread in all of this is the lifespan and its linguistic (in)stability.

I'm a co-editor of the new Routledge series Studies in Language Change with Isabelle Buchstaller, and co-editor with Erez Levon of the sociolinguistics section of the new Mouton online journal Linguistics Vanguard. Contact me if you have a book project idea or a short paper that might be suitable for either venue. You can find more details here.

You can find me in the MSU Sociolinguistics Lab, which is a growing community of amazing students. You can read a recent MSU profile about how I try to include students in my research. I also operate the mailing list of the MSU Friends of Sociolinguistics: an informal cross-departmental group of people interested in language variation and change. In addition to my position in the MSU Linguistics program, I'm a Core Faculty member at the Center for Gender in Global Context and I'm an Affiliate Faculty member in the Second Language Studies program.



Fall 2016

On leave.




Spring 2017

IAH 231c 001-003 Roles of Language in Society, Mon and Wed, 10:20-11:40, 128 Natural Sciences

LIN 471 Sociolinguistics, Mon and Wed, 12:40-2:00, A134 Wells

Office hours: TBA

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