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Nola M. Hecker (Stephens)

Nola M. Hecker (Stephens)

Associate Professor of Linguistics
On faculty since 2012


706.820.2165 (Fax)



PhD, Stanford University, 2010

BA, Indiana University, 2005


Professional Interests

I’m fascinated by many aspects of human language, but my primary interests lie in the areas of child language development, psycholinguistics, lexical semantics, and sociolinguistics. During graduate school, my studies were focused on preschoolers’ language development, especially how they learn to order words in a sentence.


Since coming to Covenant, my research interests have shifted more toward sociolinguistics and the intersection of language and religion. For example, I’m particularly interested in understanding how religious beliefs and doctrinal commitments influence Christians’ language attitudes, as well as how beliefs about language influence how Christians view God and their fellow image bearers.


Covenant Activities

I serve as the faculty advisor for the Covenant College Linguistics Club and the Speech and Debate Society. I’ve also been known to play basketball against our tallest economist, Dr. Brian Fikkert.


Selected Recent Publications
  • “Dative constructions and givenness in the speech of four-year-olds.” Linguistics, 2015, vol. 53(3), 405-442.
  • “Country talk.” [Lauren Hall-Lew and Nola Stephens] Journal of English Linguistics, 2012, vol. 40(3), 256-280.


Selected Recent Presentations

  • “Grammar next to Godliness: A linguist’s look at the intersection of prescriptivism and theology.” The Prescriptivism Conference, June, 2017.

  • “‘Really? You were homeschooled?’: Persona construction, educational background, and the quotative system of young adults.” [Nola Stephens, Lauren Hall-Lew, and Vickie Ellis] The Annual Meeting of the American Dialect Society, January, 2017.


Dr. Nola Stephens

Dr. Stephens discusses the importance of language in Scripture and describes the excitement of studying linguistics as a believer.

Maggie Luke

"The English major at Covenant is awesome. Each member of the faculty is incredibly knowledgeable and wise, and really cares about the students. I have always loved to read and write, and the classes offered have grown me as a writer and reader in so many areas...there’s something about the English major that just has you constantly thinking about things; chapel talks tie into something you’re reading, core classes enhance your understanding of literature. English lets you get inside the heads of so many different people: your classmates, your professors, an author from sixty years ago. You learn from others, and are given this space to contribute."
 - Maggie Luke '20