Jessie Sams

Professor of Linguistics

Department of Languages, Cultures, and Communication

Stephen F. Austin State University


PhD in Linguistics from University of Colorado at Boulder (December 2008)

MA in Linguistics from the University of Colorado at Boulder (December 2005)

BS in English from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, Magna cum laude (May 2003)


Dr. Laura Michaelis served as my PhD advisor and dissertation committee chair.

My dissertation, A Syntactic Analysis of Written English Quotatives, tied together my love of reading and linguistics with a data-driven approach to analyzing textual features.

Research and Teaching Interests

My primary research and teaching interests include the following: constructed languages, written quotatives, corpus linguistics, genre and textual features, history of English, English etymology, and English grammar.



Mentions in news

University teaching recognition

  • AARC Bravo Award, Outstanding Support of SFA Students (2020)
  • Teaching Excellence Award (2017)

Funded research

  • Research/Creative Activity Grant, sponsored by Stephen F. Austin State University Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, $10,000. January 2020-August 2021.
  • Mini-Grants for Implementation of High-Impact Practices in the Classroom, sponsored by Stephen F. Austin State University Office of High-Impact Practices, $1,000 each. 2012, 2013, 2014.
  • Co-principal investigator for Research Grant, sponsored by Stephen F. Austin State University Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, $1,575. Summer 2012.

Academic recognition

  • Phi Beta Kappa, Delta Chapter of Missouri (inducted in April 2003)

Academic appointments & Teaching experience

In 2009, I was hired as an Assistant Professor at SFA, first in the Department of English, where I taught until December 2018; while I am still at SFA, Linguistics was moved to the Department of Languages, Cultures, and Communication, where I have been working since January 2019 and am now a full professor.

Prior to SFA, I worked as an adjunct instructor for Niagara University, Daemen College, and Medaille College in the Buffalo, NY, area. Before that, I was a graduate instructor for CU-Boulder.

Sample of courses taught

    • LING 3341 Introduction to Linguistics
    • LING 3342 History of the English Language
    • LING 3343 Descriptive Linguistics (taught as Linguistics of ASL)
    • LING 3344 Structures of English
    • LING 4337 Invented Languages
    • LING 4339 English Grammar
    • LING 4342 Topics in Linguistics (including Linguistics & Reality TV and Old English)
    • A variety of independent studies (including Corpus Linguistics, Conlangs, and Linguistic Analysis of Young Adult Literature)

Conlang work and Publications


Other Publications


  • “Word formation in HIMYM.” 2016. In Kristy Beers Fägersten (ed.) Watching TV with a Linguist. Syracuse University Press, 161-180.
  • “Quoting the Unspoken: An analysis of quotatives in spoken discourse.” 2010. Journal of Pragmatics 42(11). 3147-3160.
  • “Genre-Controlled Constructions in Written Language Quotatives: A case study of English quotatives from two major genres.” 2009. In Roberta Corrigan, Edith A. Moravcsik, Hamid Ouali, and Kathleen Wheatley (eds.) Typological Studies in Language: Formulaic Language (Vol. 1). John Benjamins Publishing Company, 147-170.

Conference Presentations & Posters


  • “Sentences au naturel: Benefits of using natural language data in the classroom.” Invited speaker. East Texas English Language & Literature Conference (ETELL) at Angelina Community College, October 6, 2018.
  • “Creativity and simulations: Using simulated scenarios to increase creative thinking.” Pedagogicon Conference at Eastern Kentucky University, May 2016.
  • “Authors, genres, and series: Their effects on written English quotatives.” Keynote speaker. Interdisciplinary Conference in Linguistics, hosted by the Linguistics Society at the University of Georgia (LSUGA), October 24, 2014.
  • “Prayer or Incantation? A linguistic analysis.” With co-presenter Lindsey Antonini. Southeastern Conference on Linguistics (SECOL) LXXXI in Myrtle Beach, SC, March 2014.
  • “Sociolinguistic attitudes toward Spanish and Guaraní in Paraguay.” With co-presenter Kelsey Nixon. SCMLA Conference in New Orleans, LA, October 3, 2013.
  • “From /p, t, k/ to Potake: Moving from sounds to words.” 5th Language Construction Conference in Austin, TX, May 4, 2013.
  • “Coaching Linguistics: Using sports psychology to enhance undergraduate linguistics teaching.” Southeastern Conference on Linguistics (SECOL) LXXX in Spartanburg, SC, April 6, 2013.
  • Fingerwaggled and Don Corleoned: Quoting verb selection as evidence for formulaic constructions.” With co-presenter Lindsey Antonini. 5th Annual Formulaic Language Research Network (FLaRN) Conference in Tilburg, the Netherlands, March 28-30, 2012.
  • “Middle English and translated works.” Foreign Influences on Medieval English Conference in Warsaw, Poland, December 2009.
  • “Genre-controlled constructions in written language quotatives.” 2007 UWM Linguistics Symposium on Formulaic Language, April 2007.

Book Reviews

All reviews listed here appear in issues of the LinguistList book reviews. Each entry in this list provides citation information for the book reviewed, followed by a link to my published review.

  • Biber, Douglas and Bethany Gray. Grammatical Complexity in Academic English. 2019. Cambridge University Press. Review.
  • Garner, Bryan A. Garner’s Modern English Usage: The authority on grammar, usage, and style (4th edition). 2017. Oxford University Press. Review.
  • Durkin, Philip. Borrowed Words: A history of loanwords in English. 2016. Oxford University Press. Review.
  • Bailey, Richard W. Speaking American: A history of English in the United States. 2016. Oxford University Press. Review.
  • Moore, Collette. Quoting Speech in Early English. 2014. Cambridge University Press. Review.
  • van Gelderen, Elly. A History of the English Language. 2014. John Benjamins Publishing Company. Review.
  • Mugglestone, Lynda (editor). The Oxford History of English (updated edition). 2012. Oxford University Press. Review.
  • Richardson, Kay. Television Dramatic Dialogue. 2010. Oxford University Press. Review.
  • Quaglio, Paulo. Television Dialogue: The sitcom Friends vs. natural conversation. 2009. John Benjamins Publishing Company. Review

Link to full CV


A fuller version of my CV can be found here.