Gary B. Palmer headshot

Gary B. Palmer

Professor Emeritus



The focus of Gary Palmer's research is to discover how culturally specific imagery is coded in the grammars of very diverse language families. This focus has guided studies of the Salishan language Snchitsu'umshtsn (Coeur d'Alene), the Bantu language ChiShona, and most recently, the Austronesian language Tagalog, also known in its contemporary form as Pilipino. Cross linguistic comparisons can be found in Toward a Theory of Cultural Linguistics (1996), translated into Spanish as Lingüística Cultural (2000). In it, Palmer follows Ronald Langacker in defining grammar as symbolic constructions, which are conventional links between patterns of imagery and phonology, but he shifts the focus away from attentional processes such as figure and ground over to the culturally defined imagery of scenarios depicting social and physical actions. He shows that the concept of construction can be applied at all levels of speech ranging from morphemes, and lexemes on up through patterns of discourse and narrative. Recent publications apply the theory to the topics of subjectification, language about thoughts and emotions, proto-language, and research methods.


Ph. D.: Cultural Anthropology, University of Minnesota,  1971.

M.S.: Physical Anthropology, University of Minnesota, 1966.

Research Interests

Linguistic anthropology, cognitive grammar, Tagalog, North America, Africa.