Michelle O'Malley

headshot of Michelle O'Malley
Associate Professor of Instruction in Linguistics & Undergraduate Chair
College of Arts and Sciences
Speciality/Interest Area
Applied sociolinguistics, forensic linguistics, ethnography, Appalachia, language systems and identity, social justice, place-making, mentorship, leadership, environmental leadership & sustainability
The Southern Ohio Language Project (SOLP), which I currently direct, is cataloguing, via ethnographic and sociolinguistic interviews and story recordings, aspects of regional Appalachian history, social constructs, and language forms. There are, in fact, multiple projects working within the larger SOLP; some examine language variation across the state while others are more focused on forensic linguistics and the language of the law and its impact on users of marginalized and/or non-native varieties of English. This project depends heavily upon collaborations my students and I have built with local schools, public libraries and community members in Athens and in neighboring counties.  Outcome objectives include community resources placed in local libraries, school curricular supplements, and campus-community connections.

In recent years, I’ve developed courses in Language Sustainability, Forensic Linguistics, Language Documentation and Language History & Change, the final two of which have been offered both on the Athens campus and in Scotland, as part of the Cultural Linguistics Study Abroad program I created in 2013.  This study abroad explores the contributions of the Scots and Gaelic people and their languages to varieties of Appalachian English and to the cultural and social history of the region.  Now in its ninth year, the program is designed to be experiential, allowing students to learn both in the classroom and in the community from academics and community members who teach the languages, share knowledge of the geography and history of the region, and recommend language policy.