MacArthur Fellows Program

Michael Silverstein

Linguist | Class of 1982

Chicago, Illinois
37 at time of award
Area of Focus
Published August 1, 1982

About Michael's Work

Michael Silverstein studies the mutual relations of language structure and the patterns of language used by people in various kinds of social groups.

His research has ranged from grammatical theory to ethnographic description to history of the social sciences involving language.  Silverstein has proposed new, integrative ways of looking at people’s interactions, the texts they create while interacting via language, and the dynamic relations of these processes to language structure.  His field investigations and other topical research in language and culture have centered on Native America and Aboriginal Australia, as well as the contemporary United States.  He is the author of Talking Politics: The Substance of Style from Abe to “W.” (2003), a linguistic analysis of the public remarks made by President George W. Bush, in contrast to Abraham Lincoln, and other U.S. Presidents.    


His other works include Whitney on Language (1971) and Natural Histories of Discourse (1996).  He is a contributor to journals such as the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology and Current Anthropology.  Silverstein is the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology, of Linguistics, and of Psychology and in the Committee on Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities at the University of Chicago.

Silverstein received an A.B. (1965) and a Ph.D. (1972) from Harvard University.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

Select News Coverage of Michael Silverstein
February 15, 2017
"The High Stakes of Handshakes"
Discover Magazine
Michael Silverstein , 1982 MacArthur Fellow
February 12, 2013
"Michael Silverstein: America's Tongues"
Chicago Humanities Festival
Michael Silverstein , 1982 MacArthur Fellow
October 26, 2012
"Are Accents Headed for Extinction in U.S.?"
Chicago Tribune
Michael Silverstein , 1982 MacArthur Fellow
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