Aaron Dinkin's web site

I've produced enough stuff by now that I ought to have it accessible somewhere, so here it is.

I'm an assistant professor in the linguistics department at the University of Toronto; this semester I'm teaching LIN200, Introduction to Language, and LIN362, Historical Linguisticss. My office hours this semester are Monday and Thursday 2:00–3:00, in 4089 Sidney Smith Hall.

Before Toronto, I was a visiting assistant professor in the Swarthmore College linguistics department and the coordinator of their phonetics lab.

I pronounce caught the same as cot. (My dialect has other features as well.)



My main research interest is the interaction of abstract phonological structure with the direction of phonetic and phonological change, and how that interaction is manifested in dialect variation. Recently I've also started doing research on the nature of the linguistic variable as a grammatical and sociolinguistic entity. My Ph.D. is from the Linguistics department at U.Penn; the title of my dissertation is Dialect Boundaries and Phonological Change in Upstate New York. (If you don't feel like reading the whole dissertation, this handout hits most of the main points; or you could just read the abstract. If you'd prefer to read it in a more oddball format, here's the double-dactyl version and the version using only the top 1000 most common English words. And of course bits and pieces of it can be found divided up among five or six of the papers listed below.)

Below are links to most of my research. Successive versions of the same paper are listed in reverse chronological order, so the top one takes precedence, and supersedes the others in case of conflict.

You can also read my full CV.

Dialects of Upstate New York

Deconstructing the Linguistic Variable

Phonological Structure of Vowel Shifts and Mergers

Dialect Contact and Diffusion

Dialect Boundaries


My Erdős number is 4: Erdős & Chvátal (1972); Chvatal & Sankoff (1975); Sankoff & Labov (1979); Labov, Baranowski, & Dinkin (2010).


I was a member of the organizing teams for the 2006 and 2011 MIT Mystery Hunts, and have occasionally contributed puzzles to other events as well. The full list of puzzles I've written or co-written is available here. Contributions (as author or co-author) of which I'm particularly proud include the following:


I occasionally write double-dactyls. One time I made people write double-dactyls.


In grad school I did way more on-campus theatre than any grad student legitimately has time for (mostly with the Underground Shakespeare Company and Penn Players). Shows I was in at Penn include, but are not limited to:
  • 12 Angry Men, the Penn Theatre Arts Council's Small Fall show
  • The Tempest with Underground Shakespeare
  • You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown with Stimulus Children's Theater
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream with Underground Shakespeare
  • King Lear with Underground Shakespeare
  • Into the Woods with the Penn Law School Light Opera Company
  • Metamorphoses with iNtuitons
  • Lady in the Dark with the Penn Theatre Arts Program
  • Annie Get Your Gun with Penn Players
  • The Real Inspector Hound, a Small Fall show
  • Reckless with Penn Players
  • The Merchant of Venice with Underground Shakespeare
  • Elsinore! with iNtuitons

    Prior to Penn, I music-directed Songs for a New World at MIT and vocal-directed Les Phys, my roommate Peter's masterpiece, at Harvard. Before that, I was music director of the Harvard Noteables, sine quibus non.

    If you want a more detailed list of shows I've done, look here.

    me: ajd@post.harvard.edu
    my office: Sidney Smith Hall 4089, University of Toronto