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Sandra Annear Thompson (July 6, 1941 - ) is an American linguist specializing in discourse analysis, typology, and interactional linguistics.[1] She is Professor Emerita of Linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). She has published numerous books, her research has appeared in many linguistics journals,[2] and she serves on the editorial board of several prominent linguistics journals.

Sandra Thompson
Born (1941-07-06) July 6, 1941 (age 78)
Academic background
Alma materOhio State University
Academic work
Sub-disciplineDiscourse analysis, typology, interactional linguistics


Thompson received her BA in linguistics from Ohio State University in 1963. She earned her MA in linguistics in 1965 and her PhD in 1969,[3] both from Ohio State.[4]


From 1968–1986, Thompson taught at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).[5] Since 1986, she has held a position at UCSB.

Thompson is known for her large body of research on Mandarin grammar, much of which she has conducted in collaboration with UCSB colleague Charles Li. Their 1981 book Mandarin Chinese: A Functional Reference Grammar[6] is widely cited and often compared to Yuen Ren Chao's A Grammar of Spoken Chinese (1968).[7] That work, along with her earlier work in Chinese resultative verb compounds, was a major contribution to the study of Chinese morphosyntax, and stood apart from contemporary research in that it devoted attention to the internal structure of Chinese compound words, whereas other research focused on the syntactic nature of compound words.[8]

She has also conducted research on discourse and grammar, collaborating with linguists such as Paul Hopper on topics including transitivity and emergent grammar.[9] With Christian Matthiessen and Bill Mann she developed rhetorical structure theory.[10] Her interest in discourse led her to be involved in collecting data for the Santa Barbara Corpus of Spoken American English.[11]

Thompson and Charles Li also carried out extensive documentation of the Wappo language, and, with Joseph Sung-yul Park, published a reference grammar of the language in 2006.[12]

Honors and AwardsEdit

Thompson was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1988.[13] She was President of the International Pragmatics Association from 1991-1994.[14] In 2017, she was given the International Pragmatics Association's John J. Gumperz Life-Time Achievement Award at the 15th International Pragmatics Conference in Belfast.[15] A volume of essays in her honor was published in 2002.[16]


  1. ^ "Sandra A. Thompson". UCSB Linguistics. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  2. ^ "Sandra Thompson Google Scholar citations". Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  3. ^ "Department of Linguistics Alumni Directory". Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  4. ^ "Sandra Thompson CV". UCSB Linguistics. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  5. ^ "Sandra Thompson". Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  6. ^ Li, Charles N.; Thompson, Sandra A. (1981). Mandarin Chinese: A Functional Reference Grammar. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-06610-6.
  7. ^ Chan, Marjorie K.M. "Cantonese: A Comprehensive Grammar". The Ohio State University. Retrieved October 16, 2008.
  8. ^ Packard, Jerome (1997). "Introduction." New Approaches to Chinese Word Formation: Morphology, Phonology and the Lexicon in Modern and Ancient Chinese. In Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs 105, ed. Werner Winter. New York: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 17–18.
  9. ^ See, for example, Hopper, Paul J.; Sandra A. Thompson (June 1980). "Transitivity in Grammar and Discourse". Language. 56 (2): 251–299. doi:10.2307/413757. JSTOR 413757.
  10. ^ Mann, William C., Christian M. I. M. Matthiessen and Sandra A. Thompson (1992). Rhetorical Structure Theory and Text Analysis. Discourse Description: Diverse linguistic analyses of a fund-raising text . ed. by W. C. Mann and S. A. Thompson. Amsterdam, John Benjamins: 39–78.
  11. ^ "Santa Barbara Corpus of Spoken American English Part IV - Linguistic Data Consortium". Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  12. ^ Thompson, Sandra A. (2006). A reference grammar of Wappo. Park, Joseph Sung-Yul., Li, Charles N., 1940-. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520916104. OCLC 806056314.
  13. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Sandra A. Thompson". Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  14. ^ "Organization - International Pragmatics Association". Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  15. ^ "Professor Emerita Sandra Thompson Receives John J. Gumperz Life-Time Achievement Award | Department of Linguistics - UC Santa Barbara". Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  16. ^ Complex Sentences in Grammar and Discourse : Essays in honor of Sandra A. Thompson. Bybee, Joan L., Noonan, Michael., Thompson, Sandra A. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub. Co. 2002. ISBN 9789027297150. OCLC 70765498.CS1 maint: others (link)