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Dr. Sara Waggener Smith

Dr. Sara Waggener Smith Title: Professor, Departments of Linguistics and Psychology E-mail Address:


Bachelor’s Degree: Psychology Wheaton College, Illinois, 1963
Ph.D.: Experimental Psychology: Cognition & psycholinguistics Minor in Linguistics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1971.

Teaching/Research Interests:

My teaching and research deal with cognitive processes in general and especially those involved in language use. My current research focuses on conversational interactions and the intersubjective processes involved. I am trying to identify and understand the various ways in which people identify their common ground or lack thereof in everyday conversations. I am especially interested in the cues they use to negotiate their common ground — that is, the way they provide cues that allow each other to revise assumptions about their knowledge and the accessibility of that knowledge. Thus I have studied the roles of discourse markers (e.g., well, actually, you know) and the variety of reference strategies people use (e.g., how people answer questions such as ‘Where do you live?”) Much of my work is done in collaboration with undergraduate and graduate students in my research team here, and also with a linguist at University of Zurich, Andreas Jucker, and his students. In addition, I have worked with my colleague here, Xiaoping Liang, in analyzing strategies used in physics lectures.

Courses Taught:

  • PSY 332: Cognition
  • PSY 438/538: Psycholinguistics
  • PSY 634: Seminar in Cognition

Publications and Professional Presentations:

  • Smith, Sara & Andreas H. Jucker. (2000). Actually and other markers of an apparent discrepancy between the propositional attitudes of conversational partners. In: Pragmatic Markers and Propositional Attitude , Gisle Anderson and Thorstein Fretheim, eds. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. pp. 207-237.
  • Jucker, Andreas H., Sara W. Smith, & Tanja Ludge (2003). Interactive aspects of vagueness in conversation. Journal of Pragmatics, 35, 1737-1769.
  • Smith, Sara W., Hiromi Pat Noda, Steven Andrews, & Andreas H. Jucker. (2005). Setting the stage: How speakers prepare listeners for the introduction of referents in dialogues and monologues. Journal of Pragmatics, 37, 1865-1895.
  • Smith, Sara W. & Xiaoping Liang. (2007). Metapragmatic expressions in physics lectures: Integrating representations, guiding processing, and assigning participant roles. In: Metapragmatics in Use, Wolfram Bublitz & Axel Hubler, eds. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins. pp. 167-197.
  • Liang, Xiaoping & Sara W. Smith (2012). Teaching language and content: Instructor strategies in a bilingual science class at a Chinese university. International Journal of Higher Education, 1(2), 92-102.

Professional Activities, Awards, & Affiliations:

  • Member, American Psychological Association, Western Psychological Association, International Pragmatics Association