John McCarthy (linguist)

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John Joseph McCarthy
Born1953 (age 68–69)
EducationMIT (PhD), Harvard College (AB)
Scientific career
ThesisFormal problems in semitic phonology and morphology (1979)
Doctoral advisorMorris Halle
Other academic advisorsPaul Kiparsky, Jay Keyser, Joan Bresnan, Jim Harris, Mark Liberman, Edwin S. Williams
Doctoral studentsLinda Lombardi
Paul de Lacy

John Joseph McCarthy (born 1953) is an American linguist and the Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst since July 2017. In July 2018, he assumed office as the Provost.[1]

McCarthy is best-known for his work on Optimality Theory in phonology: with Alan Prince, he devised Correspondence Theory and alignment constraints, although he has subsequently renounced the latter.[2] He has since written textbooks like Doing Optimality Theory: Applying Theory to Data. Earlier in his career, McCarthy was responsible, along with Prince, for extending autosegmental phonology, and later Optimality Theory, to morphology, in particular to solve the problem of nonconcatenative morphology in Semitic languages.


HHe completed his A.B. in linguistics and Near Eastern languages at Harvard College and obtained his Ph.D. from MIT in 1979. He was a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and a visiting scientist at Bell Labs before moving to the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "UMass Amherst: The Office of the Provost - Meet the Provost". Archived from the original on 2017-09-10. Retrieved 2017-09-10.
  2. ^ McCarthy, John. OT Constraints are Categorical. Phonology 20 75--138. 2003

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