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Richard J. Senghas

HD Faculty Advisor & Department Chair of Anthropology

Richard J Senghas
Richard J. Senghas



Stevenson Hall 3729

Office Hours

Tue: 2:00 pm-3:00 pm
Thu: 10:00 am-11:00 am
Available by appointment only.

Please sign up for appointment.

Advising Area

  • General


As an undergraduate, Richard Senghas pursued both studies of Old English and computer sciences at the University of Massachusetts (including writing programs to scan the text of Beowulf for clues to structure and scansion). After spending a decade working in various engineering departments in Silicon Valley (the last within NeXT Computers), Richard returned to academics to join his sister, Ann Senghas (Barnard College of Columbia U), in the study of a new sign language emerging in Nicaragua.  While Ann’s focus has been on the psycholinguistic dimensions, Richard’s focus approaches the case from anthropological and multidisciplinary directions.  They have collaborated on and off since the early 1990s. Richard currently serves as a senator representing SSU on the statewide Academic Senate, California State University (ASCSU).


BA, University of Massachusetts (Amherst) 1978
MA, University of Rochester 1994
Ph.D., University of Rochester 1997

Academic Interests

Current Research
Following continued development of Nicaraguan Sign Language (Idioma de Señas de Nicaragua) and its signing community, including international linguistic, sociocultural, political, and economic factors.  Initiating studies in the area of cohousing and other forms of intentional communities.


Linguistic anthropology, linguistics of signed and spoken languages, social anthropology, Deaf studies; Nicaragua, North America

Selected Publications & Presentations

Senghas, R.J.  (2017).  Communicative Practices in Signed Languages.  In The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Anthropology.  N. Bonvillain, ed.  Pp 247-261.  New York, NY: Routledge.

Senghas, R. J. & Monaghan, L.  (2002).  Signs of Their Times: Deaf Communities and the Culture of Language.  Annual Review of Anthropology 31:69-97.

Senghas, R. J.  (2003).  New Ways to Be Deaf in Nicaragua: Changes in Language, Personhood, and Community.  In Many Ways to Be Deaf: International Variation in Deaf Communities.  L. Monaghan, C. Schmaling, K. Nakamura, and G. H. Turner, eds.  Pp. 260-282.  Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Senghas, R. J., Senghas, A., and Pyers, J.  (2005).  The Emergence of Nicaraguan Sign Language: Questions of Development, Acquisition, and Evolution.  In Biology and Knowledge Revisited: From Neurogenesis to Psychogenesis.  S. T. Parker, J. Langer, and C Milbrath, eds.  Pp. 287-306.  Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.