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Dr. Malcolm Awadajin Finney

Malcolm Awadajin Finney Title: Professor & Chair of Linguistics
Office Location: PSY 409
Phone Number: (562) 985-7425
E-mail Address:
Web Site:


Bachelor’s Degree: B.A. (Honors) in English, 1984, University of Sierra Leone
Master’s Degree: M.A. in Linguistics, 1988, University of Ottawa, Canada
Ph.D.: PhD in Linguistics, 1994, University of Ottawa, Canada.

Teaching/Research Interests:

My primary teaching and research interests are in first and second language and literacy acquisition, and bilingualism. I offer graduate seminars on Language Acquisition and Bilingualism in the Linguistics Department. My primary research interest involves investigating current theories of language and literacy, predictions in first and second language and literacy acquisition, and implications for language instruction. I am interested in different factors that may be responsible for discrepancy in terms of speed and efficiency between first and adult second language acquisition. My previous and current research has focused structural, lexical, phonological, pragmatic, and stylistic differences between languages and effects on language acquisition, use, and processing. I am involved in research on Creole languages, which exhibit a simplified grammatical system argued to parallel early developing grammars of language learners. I am further interested in the possible influence of West African languages on Creoles and, by implication, African American English.

Courses Taught:

  • LING 329: Introduction to Language Acquisition
  • LING 429: Language, Learning, and the Developing Child: A Cross-Cultural Perspective
  • LING 575: Literacy and Linguistics
  • LING 650: Seminar on Bilingualism
  • LING/PSY 539: Language Acquisition

Publications and Professional Presentations:

  • 2002. Effects of Spanish Pragmatic and Lexical Constraints in the Interpretation of L2 English Anaphora. Pragmatics, 12 (3), 297-328.
  • 2003. Substratal Influence on the Morphosyntactic Properties of Krio. Linguistic Review, 2 (3), 58-83.
  • April/May 2003. Perception of Errors in Second Language Syntax: Acquisition or Processing Difficulties? In Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Bilingualism, Arizona State University, Tempe.
  • 2004. Tone assignment on Lexical Items of English and African Origin in Krio. In Genevieve Escure & Armin Schwegler (Eds.), Creoles, Contact and Language Change: Linguistics and Social Implications (pp. 221-236). John Benjamins.
  • 2006. (In Collaboration with James Till & Pat Noda) Cross-Linguistic Differences and Difficulty in the Production and Perception of English Vowels by Native Speakers of Chinese and Japanese. Presented at the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association Convention, Tucson, Arizona, October 14, 2006

Professional Activities, Awards, & Affiliations:

  • 2002. Outstanding Service Learning Faculty Member, Community Service Learning Center, CSULB.
  • 2005.Spirit of Service Award (in recognition of valuable contributions to the Long Beach Community through commitment to community life and generosity of spirit), Center for Community Engagement, CSULB.
  • 2006. University Faculty Community Service Award. I am an active member of a number of professional organizations including: Linguistic Society of America; Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics; African Linguistics Society; International Linguistic Association; Linguist List (Internet); Bilingual List (Internet); Creole List (Internet). I am also a member Phi Beta Delta, an organization dedicated to promoting and recognizing achievements in the areas of international education and exchange. I am actively involved with the Long Beach Public Library Foundation whose existing programs for children include the Bookworm Buddy Read Aloud Program and Family Learning Centers, which provide homework and literacy support for students. The Foundation and I are collaboratively pursuing grant opportunities to address the literacy problems faced by at-risk school children in the city of Long Beach. I am currently a grader for the Writing Proficiency Examination; the Vice President of the California Faculty Association (Long Beach Chapter); Member of the International Education Committee; and Member, Grade Appeal Committee. I am currently on a number of departmental committees including the Curriculum Committee and the Service Learning Committee. I am a Faculty Fellow at the Center for Community Engagement, CSULB. I help organize and participate in projects, forums, workshops, and discussion groups that bring together faculty interested in teaching and research aspects of community engagement. I co-coordinate activities that promote Participatory/ Action Community-Based scholarship among faculty (research on the causes of, and solutions to, community problems identified by the community within the faculty’s areas of expertise). I offer professional services to a number of organizations primarily as a reviewer/ editor, primarily in peer reviewing proposed or published texts in general linguistics, language acquisition and Creole studies. I am a member of the Editorial Review Board of the Sierra Leone Journal, which publishes articles on a variety of issues (including linguistic) relevant to Sierra Leone.