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Visiting Fellow, 2015 – 2016

Amalia Gnanadesikan

Associate Research Scientist at the Center for Advanced Study of Language University of Maryland


Amalia Gnanadesikan's research focuses on two areas: South Asian languages and writing systems. She is a specialist in Dhivehi—the language of the Maldives—with a reference grammar currently in press at de Gruyter-Mouton and a Dhivehi-English dictionary largely completed. She is also co-editor of the Mouton-CASL grammar series, which publishes reference grammars of under-described languages of global importance. Recently she served as principal investigator of the Human Language Technologies for Language Analysts project at UMD CASL, which created grammars, dictionaries, and improved dictionary look-up tools for under-described languages. Although most modern linguists dismiss writing as subordinate to spoken language and thus irrelevant to the human language faculty, she studies the interaction between spoken and written language, applying methods of linguistic analysis to the study of writing systems in order to better understand how they function and how they represent the languages for which they are used. Her book, The Writing Revolution: Cuneiform to the Internet, is an accessible introduction to the history of writing and the structure of writing systems.


Signs of Writing: The Cultural, Social, and Linguistic Contexts of the World’s First Writing Systems

2013 – 2016