Department ofGermanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures

Michael Putnam

Michael Putnam

Professor of German and Linguistics
Director, Program in Linguistics & Associate Director, Center for Language Science
Germanic Linguistics, Morphology, Syntax, Multilingualism, Language Contact

239 Burrowes Building



Ph.D. University of Kansas, 2006


Prof. Putnam’s research focuses on the structural properties of words (morphology) and clauses (syntax) in Germanic languages past and present and beyond. His research explores how elements of sound, meaning, and structure intersect and combine with one another. Prof. Putnam has a special interest for the development of heritage and contact varieties of Germanic languages (and dialects) spoken outside of their (European) area of origin. Some of his most recent work explores the morphology and syntax of North and Latin American Norwegian and Pennsylvania Dutch. From a more general perspective, he is engaged with understanding the acquisition, development, and attrition of Germanic languages in bi/multilingual settings and the structure of the bi/multilingual lexicon after the word settings.

Prof. Putnam is director of the reading and research group Morphology Circle @ PSU , which includes students and researchers at Penn State and other national and international scholars. Collectively, the research carried out by this group adopts the perspective that words are internally complex units of language, whose structural properties require further investigation. These studies strive to be empirically rich, while also focusing on the representational properties of these elements and how they relate to storage and computation in the human mind.

Prof. Putnam also serves as editor for the book series: Studies in Germanic Linguistics (John Benjamins Publishing Company) and Open Germanic Linguistics (Language Science Press). He is also founding editor of the Open Access journal Continua published by Penn State University Libraries Open Publishing.