Sean O'Neill

Associate Professor

Ph.D. University of California-Davis, 2001


Office: DHT 508



Phone: (405) 325-4499

Research Interests

Linguistic anthropology; ethnomusicology; history and theory in cultural anthropology; anthropology of religion; the psychology of culture; linguistic relativity; discourse analysis; descriptive linguistics; oral literature; ethnographic methods; folklore; language contact; historical linguistics; semiotics; language ideologies and musical ideologies; structuralism and post-structuralism; performance theory; indigenous languages; formal and cultural parallels between language music; Boasian anthropology and the legacy of Edward Sapir; the history of ethnomusicology.

Current Projects 

"Music Theory" (The Place of Music in the History of Anthropological Thought) 

Ponca Language Documentation (Support for Community-Based Dictionary)

Franz Boas Papers: Documentary Edition (Member of the Editorial Advisory Board)

Selected Publications


Native American Placenames of the Southwest: A Handbook for Travelers, William Bright, edited with an Introduction by Alice Anderton and Sean O’Neill. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2013.  

Cultural Contact and Linguistic Relativity among the Indians of Northwestern California. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, Spring 2008. 

The Collected Works of Edward Sapir XIV: Northwest California Linguistics, edited by Victor Golla and Sean O’Neill. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 2001.

Recent Articles 

Translating Poetry and Song in Indigenous Societies: Ethnic Aesthetic Performances in Multilingual and Multicultural Settings. Journal of Folklore Research, Special Triple Issue, Ethnopoetics, Narrative Inequality, and Voice: The Legacy of Dell Hymes, edited by Paul V. Kroskrity and Anthony K. Webster, 50(1-3):217-250, Fall 2013.

"The Politics of Language Contact in Northwestern California: Maintaining Diversity in the Face of Cultural Convergence. "International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Special Issue on Indigenous Languages in Contact. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter, forthcoming 2014.

"The Politics of Storytelling in Northwestern California: Ideology, Identity, and Maintaining Narrative Distinction in the Face of Cultural Convergence." In Telling Stories in the Face of Danger: Language Renewal in Native American Communities, edited by Paul Kroskrity. University of Oklahoma Press, 2012.

"Why Revisit Published Data of an Endangered Language With Native Speakers? An Illustration from Cherokee." Durbin Feeling, Christine Armer, Charles Foster, Marcellino Berardo, and Sean O’Neill, pp. 1-21. University of Hawaii: Language Documentation and Conservation, Volume 4, 2010.

"Mythic and Poetic Dimensions of Speech in Northwestern California: From Cultural Vocabulary to Linguistic Relativity." Anthropological Linguistics 48(4): 305-334, 2006.

Selected Grants

Documenting Plains Apache, National Endowment for the Humanities, 2008-2013.

Comparative Northwestern California Grammar and Vocabulary: A Computerized
Cross-Linguistic Database, Dissertation Grant, National Science Foundation, 1998-2000.

Hupa Language and Culture: A Case Study in Linguistic Relativity, Pre-Doctoral Grant, Wenner-Gren Foundation, 1998.

Courses taught


  • Anthropological Linguistics (Introduction to Humanistic Linguistics)
  • General Linguistics (Introduction to Linguistic Science)
  • Language Across Cultures (Survey of World Languages in Anthropological Perspective)
  • Religion in Everyday Life (Freshman Level course on Anthropology of Religion)
  • Anthropology of Religion (Upper Division Course)
  • Language & Culture (Theories of Language, Culture, Thought, and Ideology)
  • Ethnomusicology (“Music, Language, and Culture”)
Graduate Seminars 
  • Core Course in Linguistic Anthropology
  • Foundations of Social Thought (Covering the works of Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Boas, Malinowski, Radcliffe-Brown, Mead, Benedict, Sapir, Whorf, Bateson, Gramsci, Bakhtin, Voloshinov, Benjamin, Mauss, Lévy-Bruhl, Lévi-Strauss, Geertz, Foucault, and Bourdieu
  • Field Methods in Anthropological Linguistics I-II-III
  • Ethnographic Methods
  • Contemporary Linguistic Anthropology (focusing on recent work on ideology, identity, performance studies, and linguistic relativity)
  • Phonetics and Phonemics
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Morphosyntax 

Curriculum vitaeCV_(O'Neill)-Web15.pdf