Job Title: 
Assistant Professor of Linguistics
3134 Eastman Hall
(585) 475-4416

Ph.D., University of Utah, 2012.
M.A., University of Rochester, 2005.


I am a field linguist with formal training in theoretical linguistics and language documentation. I have carried out research projects (including fieldwork) in Amazonian languages (Sateré-Mawé [Tupian], Tikuna [isolate], and Desano, Arapaso and Karapanã [Eastern Tukanoan]). My research on these languages covers a variety of topics of theoretical interest. Besides the scientific contribution to linguistic theory, my research projects are also committed to endangered language documentation (i.e., adequate grammar, dictionary, and abundant texts to represent the language in many of its use), and linguistic and cultural revitalization.

My Ph.D. dissertation is a typologically informed description of the phonology and morphosyntax of Desano, entitled A Descriptive Grammar of Desano, under the supervision of Dr. Lyle Campbell.

Research Interests

My research interests include language contact in northwest Amazonia (Vaupés River region), comparative linguistics within the Tukanoan language family, language typology, language description, and language documentation and revitalization.

Linguistics Courses I teach at RIT:

  • ANTH-104 Language and Linguistics (Fall)
  • ANTH-220 Language and Culture (Spring)
  • ANTH-285 American Indian Languages (Spring, biannually)
  • ANTH-290 Language and Sexuality (Fall, biannually)
  • ANTH-305 Comparative and Historical Linguistics (Fall, bianually) 

Selected Publications

  • Silva, Wilson and Scott AnderBois. 2016. Fieldwork Game Play: Masterminding Evidentiality in Desano, in Journal of Language Documentation and Conservation, Vol. 10, pp.58-76. University of Hawai'i, Manoa.
  • Silva, Wilson. 2016. The Status of the Laryngeals ‘ʔ’ and ‘h’ in Desano, in The Phonetics and Phonology of Laryngeal Features in Native American Languages, Heriberto Avelino, Matt Coler, and W. Leo Wetzels (eds), pp. 285-307. Leiden/Boston: Brill.  
  • Silva, Wilson. 2014. Review: A Reference Grammar of Kotiria (Wanano), by Kristine Stenzel. In Anthropological Linguistics, 56(1), pp. 106-112, DOI: 10.1353/anl.2014.0004.
  • Silva, Wilson. 2008. Acoustic analysis of voiceless obstruents and nasal harmony in Desano, in Amerindia, revue d'ethnolinguistique amérindienne. Number 32. Special Issue: La structure des langues amazoniennes, pp. 301-319.