Christopher Stevens is primarily interested in language variation and language change. How he came to these interests is a long story but his training with excellent linguists at the universities of Michigan, Mainz, and Tübingen had a lot to do with it. Professor Stevens has studied modern German, Dutch, French and several other spoken languages but the dead (or ‘philological’) languages are his forte. His specialty is the older stages of Germanic, specifically, Old High German, Old Saxon, Gothic, Old English, Old Frisian, Old Dutch, Old Norse, including the entire history of German. He studies these languages to gain insights into language variation and change. As a side benefit, much can also be gleaned about the history and culture of the people who used these languages and that, too, fascinates him. In addition to his primary appointment in the Department of Germanic Languages, Prof. Stevens is also on the faculty for Indo-European Studies at UCLA. The program in Indo-European Studies at UCLA is one of the premier programs, if not the premier program, in comparative linguistics in the world today.
- Ph.D. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
- The Origin of Language. 2016. Self published.
- An Historical Analysis of Directional Adverbs in Fourteenth Century Southwestern German: A Study in Historical Dialectology. Göppingen: Kümmerle Verlag, 1992. Pp. xii + 222. [= Göppinger Arbeiten zur Germanistik, no. 570.]
- On the Bifurcation and Repression Theories of Germanic and German. Journal of Indo-European Studies Monograph, No. 29. Edgar C. Polomé and Richard Diebold, editors. Washington, D.C.: Institute of Man, 1998. Pp.xiv + 98.
- Translation of poem into Gothic for Endgame: The Calling by James Frey and Nils Johnson Shelton. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. P. 184 (2014).
- Translation of a page of text into Gothic for Endgame: Sky Key by James Frey and Nils Johnson Shelton. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. P. 420 (2015).
- Translation of a text into Gothic for Endgame: volume 3 by James Frey and Nils Johnson Shelton. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. Forthcoming.
WORKS IN PROGRESS
- Book: On the Grammaticalization of the Word (in preparation)
- Articles: “On the locus of grammaticalization in Old English roots.”
- “The Derivational Suffixes and Suffixoids of Old Saxon: A Panchronic Approach to a Linguistic Category.” American Journal of Germanic Linguistics and Literatures 12.1:53-79 (2000).
- “More Prefixes and Prefixoids of Old Saxon and Further Examples of the Grammaticalization of the Old Saxon Root.” Leuvense Bijdragen 91:301-318 (2002).
- “The Prefixes and Prefixoids of Old Saxon: On the Grammaticalization of the Old Saxon Adverbs and Prepositions. Leuvense Bijdragen 93:151-178 (2004).
- “Revisiting the Affixoid Debate: On the Grammaticalization of the Word.” In Grammatikalisierung im Deutschen, edited by T. Mortelmans, T. Leuschner, and S. Groodt [= Linguistik — Impulse und Tendenzen, 9.] Berlin: de Gruyter. Pp. 71-84 (2011).
On Research and Teaching
Professor Stevens’ first book was An Historical Analysis of Directional Adverbs in Fourteenth Century Southwestern German: A Study in Historical Dialectology. He has also published on theory in reconstruction (in articles and my book, On the Bifurcation and Repression Theories of Germanic and German).
And Professor Stevens have published several articles on grammaticalization theory (on modal verbs and affixoids) that try to answer the simple question ‘where does grammar come from?’. Recently, he has become interested in the origin of human language and have self-published a book on this topic, as well. While we can’t, of course, know precisely how language originated, we are finally at a point where we can say quite a lot about it, and this area has also become a battleground for he formalist vs. functionalist debate in linguistics.
The origin of language is a topic of wide interest to many fields, so Prof. Stevens teaches it as a lower division, general education course for all to take. All other courses (at the upper division and graduate level) are on the linguistics of German, its history, dialects, sociolinguistics and on theory in language variation and change. He also teaches graduate courses on Old High German, Old Saxon and Gothic. For the past few years Professor Stevens has co-directed the UCLA summer Study/Travel program in Vienna, Munich and Berlin, which focuses on the language and culture of these extraordinary cities.