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Roger Andersen


Roger Andersen

Professor of Applied Linguistics

UC Los Angeles



Roger Andersen, professor of applied linguistics at UCLA, died of cancer on January 22, 2008. Born in Montana, Dr. Andersen graduated from Michigan State University and later received his doctorate from the University of Texas in Austin. He joined the UCLA faculty in 1976. His research was in the areas of second language acquisition, pidgin and creole studies, and second language education. He was one of the founders of the field of second language acquisition. His research resolved many of the discrepancies in the studies of the acquisition order of the English morphemes. This research is reported in “An implicational model for second language research,” Language Learning, 28, (1978). He also made major contributions to our knowledge of the acquisition of temporal systems in second language learning (“the acquisition of tense-aspect morphology: A prototype account [withYasuhiro Shirai] Language, 71, 1995). Additionally, he brought second language studies into the cognitive error by identifying a set of cognitive operating principles underlying second language processing (Four operating principles and input distribution as explanations for underdeveloped and mature morphological systems. In K. Hyltenstam and A. Viborg (Eds.) Progress and Regression in Language, Cambridge University Press, 1993).


Andersen was also a scholar of pidgin and creole languages, and it was his work that established these languages as language acquisition phenomena (Pidginization and creolization as language acquisition, Rowley, MA: Newberry House Publishers, 1983). Much of this research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His most recent work was in the development of training programs for little-studied languages such as Papiuamentu, Quechua, and Tibetan. In this work, he developed materials from audio and visual recordings of authentic language use in the countries where the languages are spoken. The research was supported by grants from the International Research and Studies Program of the United States Department of Education. The work included his participation in the Virginia-Chicago-Paris project on Tibetan and in the UCLA and Eastern Michigan University-based project On Expanding the Digital Resources for the Study of Quechua. The Tibetan programs are part of the Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library and can be viewed at <>


Andersen’s contribution to The UCLA Quechua resources project deserves special mention. He initially developed the project between 1995 and 1998 and it designed to provide authentic audio and visual access to the Quechua language. The program provides multimedia language materials with video and audio files supported by still photographs and transcripts of the language interaction. These materials serve as a venue for those who would like to learn the actual language and also by those who want to conduct linguistic or anthropological research on Quechua society, culture and language. Its foundational component is an ethnographic film, Ucuchi, a town in central Bolivia. The program also includes a textbook, reference guides, interactive video, transcripts, and dictionaries. Andersen returned to Bolivia between 2004 and 2007 to continue development of the program. This research provided a retrospective after 15 years on the people language and culture of Ucuchi. All these materials are available at the website, Digital Resources for the Study of Quechua (


Professor Andersen is survived by his wife, Sonya, and their two daughters, Jennifer and Christine.