Jump to main content

John Ryan

John Ryan

Associate Professor

Hispanic Studies
College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Contact Information

(970) 351-3105
(970) 351-3823
Candelaria 0004
Office Hours
Tuesdays/Thursdays 3:30-4:30 p.m. or by appointment
Mailing Address
University of Northern Colorado
Hispanic Studies
Campus Box 87
Greeley, CO 80639


Ph.D., Rhetoric, Composition and Linguistics, Arizona State University

M.A., Spanish Linguistics, Arizona State University

B.S., Spanish, Georgetown University, cum laude

Professional/Academic Experience

Other Experience

Over the years, Dr. Ryan has also done considerable work in grant writing and administration for Georgetown and Arizona State Universities with such units as the Hispanic Research Center and the Office of the Vice President for Education Partnerships where he contributed toward the improvement of educational opportunities for the Latino community. Dr. Ryan’s work has taken him to such places as Spain, Italy, France, Greece, the United Arab Emirates, Hungary, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where he has made presentations in both English and Spanish. Other positions he has held included undergraduate advisor for Spanish majors at Arizona State University; cultural coordinator for the American Institute for Foreign Study’s Summer Program in Salamanca, Spain; and English instructor for Centro Británico, also in Salamanca. Before attending college, Professor Ryan was one of five winners of the prestigious Herencia Española National Essay Contest. Since 1981, Dr. Ryan has been a member of Georgetown University’s Lamba Beta Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society. 

Dr. Ryan is a member of the Linguist List (International Linguistics Community), the Linguistic Society of America, the Linguistic Association of the Southwest and the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association.

Research/Areas of Interest

The Early Verb
Dr. Ryan’s primary area of research has to do with the emergence of verbs in both first and second language learners of Spanish and other languages. His most recent work, the Early Verb Project, is the first comprehensive cross-linguistic study of early verb emergence in children. Thanks to the support of a 2012 UNC Summer Support Initiative Award, a Research Dissemination and Faculty Development Grant, and a Spring 2013 Faculty Reassignment Award, Professor Ryan was able to analyze an additional two databases for this project, and through the 2014-2015 Sponsored Research Fellowship Program submitted a grant proposal to the National Science Foundation to further expand his research. Since coming to UNC, Dr. Ryan has published the results of his work in his first book, The Genesis of Argument Structure: Observations of a Child’s Early Speech Production in Spanish. (UNC Michener Library Catalog Number P118 .R92 2012), and more recently, in the Journal of Child Language Acquisition and DevelopmentTheory and Practice and Language Studies; and the Athens Journal of Humanities and Arts

The Spanish Diminutive
Another area Dr. Ryan is interested in is the relexification of diminutives in Modern Spanish. With the assistance of a 2012 UNC New Project Grant and a 2014 Summer Support Initiative Award, Professor Ryan has partnered with Dr. Victor Parra-Guinaldo, of the American University of Sharjah, and has hired undergraduate research assistants to help catalog the entirety of historically diminutive forms in Spanish that have become relexified, i.e., the diminutive suffix morpheme has lost its separate “diminutive” meaning and has adjoined to the word root, becoming reanalyzed along with that root as an entirely new single word root or morpheme. This project, which is intensively quantitative, analyzes data from Stahl and Scavnicky’s Reverse Dictionary of the Spanish Language (1973), the online Diccionario de la Real Academia Española, as well as the Diccionario Etimológico Crítico Castellano e Hispánico.  The project team completed cataloging data during Fall 2013 semester, after which we were able present project results at the 2014 International Conference on Historical Lexicology and Lexicography. The project team wrote a joint article of our findings which is currently in press with the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria University Press.

Reconstruction of Proto-Ibero-Romance
This project goes beyond the earliest written sources that have been documented for Ibero-Romance and examines the grammatical structures, sounds, and words of Neapolitan, a southern vernacular dialect of Italian, which Dr. Ryan suggests might serve as evidence for an early form of Romance. In the past this has been suggested for Sardinian and Sicilian but never for Neapolitan. Dr. Ryan draws upon Ibero-Romance (the variety of Romance produced in the Iberian Peninsula) as his point of comparison because the earliest written Romance texts that very recently have been found to exist are those that were produced there (i.e., Cartularios de Valpuesta c. 806 AD). In early Spring and throughout the Summer of 2013, Dr. Ryan obtained copies and began to analyze these Cartularios and other early existing Romance documents. In 2013 and 2014, he presented his findings at annual meetings of both the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association and Linguistic Society of the Southwest. Thanks to a Spring 2015 Faculty Reassignment Award, Dr. Ryan produced a scholarly chapter titled “Glimpses of Proto-Ibero-Romance through Neapolitan and Other Southern Italian Mainland Vernaculars” for publication in an upcoming edited volume for the Ohio State University Press Series Theoretical Advances in Hispanic Linguistics. 

20th Century Immigrant Discourse Analysis
This project studies the change in format, content, and language over time of immigrant language newspapers of both this century (in Spanish) and the previous one (in Spanish and Italian) and documents in an immigrant's own words the effects of immigration, the extent of home cultural/linguistic preservation or loss, as well as stages of target assimilation or transition. This two-year project is supported by a 2014 UNC New Project Program Award, as well as a small grant from the Immigration History Research Center, both of which will support Professor Ryan’s travel to review and analyze non-circulating microfilmed newspaper records at the Rhode Island Historical Society Library in Providence and the Immigration History Research Center and Archives at the University of Minnesota. Additional support has been requested from the National Endowment for the Humanities. A scholarly paper, currently in press, is titled, “Astride Two Worlds: Emergence of Italian-American Identity in the Massachusetts Immigrant Press.” 

A New Holistic and Contextual Grammar of Spanish 
Another ongoing project is a future book titled, Gramática contextual y razonada de la lengua española (roughly translated to English as A Holistic and Contextual Grammar of Spanish). This new grammar offers a unique, holistic approach to the teaching of advanced Spanish grammar that draws on scholarship from several areas of linguistics, including but not limited to, historical linguistics, language typology, and an understanding of the basic ways in which all human languages work. The overall goal of the book will be to provide an approachable, up-to-date, one-stop, comprehensive resource for existing or future teachers of Spanish. Work on this book has been supported by a UNC 2013 Summer Support Initiative Award as well as a Spring 2014 Faculty Reassignment Award, resulting in six draft chapters that Professor Ryan has begun to use in his summer graduate-level Advanced Spanish Grammar course.

Publications/Creative Works

The Genesis of Argument Structure: Observations of a Child’s Early Speech Production in Spanish. Lambert Academic Publications. 2012. 


“La intransitividad dividida en los niños monolingües Italo e hispano hablantes.” Revista de Filología Románica. In press (c).

 “An Acquisitionist’s Perspective to Teaching Introductory Linguistics.” Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 4.10: 1977-1983. Oct. 2014.

“Verb Emergence in Spanish and Italian Children during the Second Year of Age" Journal of Child Language Acquisition and Development. Vol 2, No 2 (2014): Apr. 2014.

 “To What Extent Does Split Intransitivity of the Adult Target Affect Children’s Emerging Verb Patterns?” Athens Journal of Humanities and Arts 1:9-20. 2014.

Book Chapters and Proceedings

“Classification and History of Relexified Diminutives in Modern Spanish: A Lexicographic Approach.” Words Across History. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria University Press. In press (a).

“Glimpses of Proto-Ibero-Romance through Neapolitan and Other Southern Italian Mainland Vernaculars.” Theoretical Advances in Hispanic Linguistics. Ohio State University Press. In press (b).

“Astride Two Worlds: Emergence of Italian-American Identity in the Massachusetts Immigrant Press.” Advances in Historical Sociolinguistics. Philadelphia: John Benjamins. In press (e).

 “To What Extent Does Split Intransitivity of the Adult Target Affect Children’s Emerging Verb Patterns?” Proceedings of the 6th Annual International Conference on Languages & Linguistics, July 2013, Athens Institute for Education and Research. 2013.

Book Reviews

Bartalesi-Graf, D. Voci dal Sud: A Journey to Southern Italy with Carlo Levi and His Christ Stopped at Eboli. By New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011. Pp. 419. ISBN 9780300137446. Appeared on 6/28/12 on eLanguage: Digital Publishing in Linguistics.

Clivio, G., Danesi,M., & Maida-Nicol,  S. An Introduction to Italian Dialectology. Munich: LINCOM, 2011. Pp. 216. ISBN 9783862880416. Appeared on 7/4/12 on eLanguage: Digital Publishing in Linguistics.

Corrales-Martin, N. Introduction to live grammar: A grammar of English centered on the verb.Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2012. Pp. 70. ISBN 9783862883493. Appeared on eLanguage: Digital Publishing in Linguistics.

Dworkin, S. A History of the Spanish Lexicon: A Linguistic Perspective. Appeared in Diachronica 30.3. 431-34. 2013. 

Face, T. Perception of Castilian Spanish Intonation: Implications for Intonational Phonology. LINCOM Europa, 2011. Pp. 103. ISBN 9783862880461. Appeared on 7/11/12 on eLanguage: Digital Publishing in Linguistics.

Geeslin, K. The Handbook of Spanish Second Language Acquisition. Blackwell, 2014. To appear in The Rocky Mountain Review.

Morris, R. Elementary Lessons in Historical English Grammar: Containing Accidence and Word Formation. Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2012. Pp. 272. ISBN 9783862880874. Appeared on 10/6/13 on eLanguage: Digital Publishing in Linguistics.

Mugica, P. de. Gramática del Castellano Antiguo: Primera Parte: Fonética. LINCOM Classica, 2011. Pp.. 96. ISBN 9783862900787. Appeared on 4/12/12 on the Linguist List.

Resnick, M. & Hammond, R. Introducción a la historia de la lengua española. By Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2011. Pp. 490. ISBN 9781589017320. Appeared on 5/26/12 on eLanguage: Digital Publishing in Linguistics. 

Torcineau, R.  A Simplified Grammar of the Roumanian Language. Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2011. (LINCOM gramatica 51.) Pp. 79. ISBN 9783862900374. Appeared on 6/19/13 on eLanguage: Digital Publishing in Linguistics. 

Van Eys.W. J. The Basque Language. Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2010. (LINCOM gramatica 13.) Pp. 66. ISBN 9783895861970. Appeared on 3/13/13 on eLanguage: Digital Publishing in Linguistics. 

Wright, R & E. Wright. Old English Grammar. Munich: LINCOM, 2012. Pp. 377. ISBN 9783895861673. Appeared on 9/2/13 on eLanguage: Digital Publishing in Linguistics

Honors and Awards

Download Vita