Dr. Dallin D. Oaks

Linguistics Professor at Brigham Young University

Dallin D. Oaks is a linguistics professor at BYU, where he has taught for over 30 years. He specializes in the structure of English and applications of linguistics. Earlier in his career he taught English as a Second Language full time in the public schools. Later, he earned a doctorate in English Linguistics from Purdue University.

He has published two internationally marketed textbooks as well as a two-volume academic book on Structural Ambiguity. The latter book examines the internal structures of phrases and clauses that can often be employed in fashioning wordplays. He later co-founded a company, PhraseWorthy, that has created a software brainstorming tool for producing clever wordplays for use in humor, advertising, and marketing.

Professor Oaks has articles appearing in a variety of journals, including General Linguistics; the Journal of Technical Writing and Communication; the Journal of Advertising Education; Humor: The International Journal of Humor Research; and Reading Research and Instruction.

Among his varied activities, he has been a linguistic expert witness; a linguistic consultant to Walmart (corporate headquarters); a special guest lecturer at Oxford University’s Applied Linguistics Seminar Series; and a featured guest on various radio shows, including Ockham’s Razor (Australian National Radio).

* Schedule: Dr. Oaks will be presenting a breakout session titled “Unanticipated Directions in Linguistic Application: Creating a Software for Brainstorming Wordplays on Thursday, March 4th 10:00-11:00 am MST.

Breakout Session Description: It is widely known that the field of linguistics has made substantial contributions to the applied areas of language acquisition, language pedagogy, and speech therapy. It is also well known that linguistic knowledge can be usefully integrated into computer applications, not just those involving language instruction, but also those in such technological areas as speech recognition and machine translation. It might be surprising to some people, however, to learn that linguistics can also be usefully applied with computers in creatively fashioning wordplays. In this presentation we will look at how linguistic knowledge and awareness were used in preparing one such product, the PhraseWorthy software, which brainstorms wordplays for possible use in humor, advertising, and marketing.