Meet a Pitzer Professor: Carmen Fought


A lot of people don’t really know what linguistics is. Basically, the answer is linguistics is everything. Everything we use language for involves linguistics. Linguistics is how your brain processes things. Linguistics is how do we start conversations? How do we close conversations? You might use language to negotiate something with your spouse or partner. We use language to convince people of things. In everything that we do as human beings, we use language and so that’s why linguistics is really interesting to study. I’m Carmen Fought.  I’m a professor of linguistics and I teach at Pitzer College.

I first got interested in linguistics because I loved languages and I think that’s true for a lot of people. I started studying different languages and then I found out you could study language as a thing rather than just individual languages. Another aspect to it is what I do specifically which is sociolinguistics. That’s language as it’s applied to everything in society. It’s the study basically of society or sociology but through the lens of language. I look at how do people speak differently based on the region of the country they’re from, based on their ethnicity, their age, their gender, their gender identity. If you think about it, when we speak, we’re trying to create a picture for someone of who we are, who we want to be seen as. In sociolinguistics, we look at all these things as part of how people create an identity. In the end, differences in language is about differences in what it means to be human.

For me, the small classrooms at Pitzer make a big difference. I want to get close to the students, I want to talk to them, I want to listen to them, I want everyone to talk to each other; we really learn together. Something that I absolutely love is that in my classroom, the students are ready to participate. They’re part of the classroom, it’s not just me up there talking. They’re so insightful, they’re so creative and they’re really the thing that makes the job worthwhile. I think it’s that special way of thinking about the world and raising the right questions that distinguishes a Pitzer student. It just makes them such a joy for us. I love my job every single day. I am not exaggerating. I come and I just feel so good talking with these people who have these interesting ideas, that want to think about things and want to change the world, and that makes the classroom richer for everybody.

I’m Carmen Fought and I’m a Pitzer professor.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit