The Catholic University of America

Marilyn Merritt


Dr. Marilyn Merritt (PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 1976)
Office: Marist B06
Phone: 202-319-5080

Courses at CU

ANTH 101 - Cultures in a Global Society (3 credits)


ANTH 110 - Speech and Experience: The Anthropology of Language (3 credits









 Dr. Merritt is a linguistic anthropologist who specializes in the analysis of discourse, particularly in interactions, and its impacts on literacy and education and creativity.  Her early research was on "service encounters," such as how customers and clerks speak to each other or teachers and students in classrooms. 

She has lived and worked in India, West Africa and lately in Kenya, where her work now deals with relations of learning, literacy, leadership and creativity. Dr. Merritt has taught in the US and abroad and consulted extensively for USAID and other development agencies that promote literacy and education in the developing world.

At CUA, she teaches our course on linguistic anthropology.


Dr. Merritt's Publications

"Identities: Looking Back over Forty Years as a Social Scientist, Woman, and Mother" In Motherhood, The Elephant in the Laboratory: Women Scientists Speak Out, edited by Emily Monosson (2008)

"Of Ritual Matters to Master: Structure and Improvisation in Language Development in Primary Classrooms" In Kids Talk: Strategies of Language Use among Older Children edited by S.M. Hoyle & C.T. Adger (1998)

"Socialising Multilingualism: Determinants of Code-Switching in Kenyan Primary Classrooms" (with A. Cleghorn, J. Abagi and G. Bunyi) Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development (1992)

"Swahili as a National Language in East Africa" (with M.H. Abdulaziz) InWith Forked Tongues: What Are National Languages Good For? edited by F. Coulmas (1988)

"Repeats and Reformulations in Primary Classrooms as Windows of the Nature of Talk Engagement" Discourse Processes (Apr-Jun 1982)

"Teacher, Talk and Task" (with F. Humphrey) Theory into Practice (1979)

"The Use of 'OK' in Service Encounters" Working Papers in Sociolinguistics(1978)