photo of Prof. Emily M. Bender

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Twitter: @emilymbender

Office hours (Spring 2024)

by appointment


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About Me

I have a been a member of the faculty at the University of Washington since 2003. I am currently a Professor in the Department of Linguistics and the faculty director of the CLMS program and the director of the Computational Linguistics Laboratory. For 2019-2022, I was honored to be the Howard and Frances Nostrand Endowed Professor. I am an Adjunct Professor in both the School of Computer Science and Engineering and the Information School at UW, and a member of the Tech Policy Lab, Value Sensitive Design Lab, and RAISE.

I am the past Chair (2016-2017) of the Executive Board of NAACL and have previously served as a member of the ICCL (2014-2018; the committee responsible for Coling). I am serving on the Executive Board of the Association for Computational Linguistics from 2022-2025 as VP Elect, VP, President and then Past President. I am a fellow of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science; 2022).

Prior to coming to UW, I held temporary positions at Stanford University and UC Berkeley, and worked in industry at YY Technologies. I received my PhD from the Linguistics Department at Stanford University, where I joined the HPSG and LinGO projects at CSLI. My AB (also in Linguistics) is from UC Berkeley, and I've also studied at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan.

In 2012, LINGUIST List asked me to write an essay about how I came to be a linguist and in 2018, the LSA interviewed me for their member spotlight feature. My pronouns are she/her and my Erdős number is 4.

Research Interests

Multilingual Grammar Engineering

My grammar engineering work centers on the LinGO Grammar Matrix, an open-source starter kit for the development of broad-coverage precision HPSG grammars. These grammars map strings to detailed linguistic representations in the framework of Minimal Recursion Semantics. The AGGREGATION project is investigating the automatic creation of grammars from IGT with the Grammar Matrix for the benefit of language documentation.

The Grammar Matrix is developed in the context of the DELPH-IN consortium, and Matrix-derived grammars are compatible with the DELPH-IN suite of open-source tools. The Grammar Matrix itself represents an approach to computational linguistic typology, using computational methodology to combine depth of formal methods (creating grammars which map surface strings to semantic representations) with the breadth of typological investigation (attempting to cover the known range of variants across languages for each phenomenon we approach).

Linguistics in NLP/Computation in Linguistics

I'm interested in both how computational methods can serve the purposes of linguistic analysis (as with grammar engineering) and how linguistic knowledge can be deployed to improve the performance of NLP systems. I have written two books which present linguistic concepts in a manner accessible to NLP practitioners: Linguistic Fundamentals for Natural Language Processing: 100 Essentials from Morphology and Syntax (2013) and Linguistic Fundamentals for Natural Language Processing II: 100 Essentials from Semantics and Pragmatics (2019; with Alex Lascarides).

Societal Impacts of Language Technology

Since 2016, I have been working on societal impacts of language technology, what they mean for how we carry out research and design technology, and how to adapt the NLP curriculum to include this focus. This work has included teaching semimars on the topic since early 2017, co-chairing the ethics review committee for NAACL 2021, as well as research on data documentation (the data statements project) and on the dangers of specific technology (such as large language models, or chatbots used for search). Most of my public scholarship has concerned these topics.

Sociolinguistic Variation

I am also interested in sociolinguistic variation, or the ways in which speakers manipulate the possibilities allowed by their languages to create style and register. This interest led to my involvement in the LiCORICE project, investigating the ways in which speakers express and deploy claims to authority and align with or against interlocutors. My dissertation (available online) explored how competence grammar can accommodate the relationship between non-categorical constraints on sociolinguistic variation and social meaning. In my work on the societal impacts of language technology, I frequently draw on sociolinguistic insight into language variation, linguistic discrimination, and the role of language in the production of style.

UW Affiliations



PhD Students

MS Students

  • Tom Liu (CLMS)
  • Elizabeth S. Okada (CLMS)
  • Keren Ruditsky (CLMS)
  • Tara Wueger (CLMS)

PhDs completed

MSs completed

MAs completed

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