Jessica Coon

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Jessica Coon is an Associate Professor of linguistics at McGill University and Canada Research Chair in Syntax and Indigenous Languages.[1] She was the linguistics expert consultant for the 2016 film Arrival.[2][3]

Coon works on ergativity, split-ergativity, case and agreement, nominalization, field methodology, and collaborative language work in Ch'ol and Chuj (Mayan) and Mi'gmaq (Algonquian).[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Coon received her PhD from MIT in 2010 with a dissertation on ergativity in the Ch'ol language.[5]

Coon received her BA in linguistics-anthropology from Reed College in May 2004.[6]


Coon teaches linguistics to both graduate and undergraduate students at McGill University.

In 2011, she began collaborating with language teachers in the Mi’gmaq Listuguj community, in order to document, research, and develop teaching materials for Mi’gmaq, a First Nations language of Quebec.[7]

Coon was consulted during the finalization of the script for Denis Villeneuve's Arrival for her linguistics expertise.[8] She wrote a piece for the Museum of the Moving Image on fieldwork and alien grammars, following her work on Arrival.

Key publications[edit]

  • Coon, Jessica (forthcoming). Ch’ol. The Mayan Languages, eds. Judith Aissen, Nora England, and Roberto Zavala. London: Routledge.[9]
  • Coon, Jessica (2013). Aspects of Split Ergativity. New York: Oxford University Press.[10]


  1. ^ "25 Canada Research Chairs for McGill : McGill Reporter". Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  2. ^ "CTV National News: The McGill prof who taught filmmakers to speak alien". CTVNews. Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  3. ^ "The Scientist Who Helped Amy Adams Talk to Aliens in "Arrival" - Facts So Romantic - Nautilus". Nautilus. Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  4. ^ "Jessica Coon". Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  5. ^ (MITWPL), MIT Working Papers in Linguistics. "Complementation in Chol (Mayan): A Theory of Split Ergativity | MITWPL". Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  6. ^ "CV | Jessica Coon". Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  7. ^ "Mi'gmaq Language Resources". Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  8. ^ Abley, Mark (November 4, 2016). "Watchwords: Denis Villeneuve's new film, Arrival, gets to the heart of language". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  9. ^ "Ch'ol. Jessica Coon, McGill University" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  10. ^ Coon, Jessica (2013). Aspects of Split Ergativity. Oxford University Press.

External links[edit]