Edward Finegan

Edward Finegan, CET Director

Click here to read Professor Finegan's Director Statement.

Ed Finegan, professor of linguistics and law, began as a math teacher on Long Island before completing a master’s degree at Ohio University and teaching humanities and linguistics at Case Western Reserve University. After taking a Ph.D. from Ohio University in 1968, he joined the USC faculty as assistant professor of English and later became founding chair of USC's Linguistics Department. In 1975 and 1976, he served in Tehran as director of USC’s English-language teaching project for National Iranian Radio and Television. Since 1996 he has been teaching lawyering skills in the Gould School of Law.

Besides a focus on discourse analysis and the discourses of law, Prof. Finegan’s research investigates language variation and English usage, including their treatment in dictionaries. Among his publications are Attitudes toward English Usage: The History of a War of Words (1980); Sociolinguistic Perspectives on Register (co-edited, 1994); Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English (co-authored, 1999); Language in the USA (co-edited, 2004); and Language: Its Structure and Use (2012). He has contributed chapters to the Cambridge History of the English Language (1998, 2001), The World’s Major Languages (2009), and A History of the English Language (2006). He has served on the editorial boards of American Speech; Corpora; Discourse Analysis; and English Language and Linguistics and as founding general editor of Oxford Studies in Sociolinguistics. He is the delegate to the American Council of Learned Societies for the Dictionary Society of North America.

Focusing principally on linguistic aspects of contract interpretation, defamation, and trademark infringement, Prof. Finegan has consulted for scores of law firms in more than a dozen states, as well as for the offices of the Federal Public Defender and the California Attorney General. Currently vice-president of the International Association of Forensic Linguists, he will become president of the association in 2013. He served three times as president of the USC chapter of Phi Kappa Phi and is the recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award; he also served for two years as co-president of the University’s Lambda Alumni Association. He is the recipient of the Associates Award for Excellence in Teaching (1980) and has been honored by USC Dornsife College with the Albert S. Raubenheimer Distinguished Faculty Award (1981 and 2004) and its General Education Teaching Award (2001). Besides his work at CET, Prof. Finegan also chairs the University’s Oversight Committee on Athletic Academic Affairs.