Pasadena City College, Home of the PCC Lancers

Petra Lott

Personal Info

I was born and brought up in a lakeside community outside of Zurich, Switzerland. After graduating from high school, I worked as a nurse’s aid at a nursing home where I encountered a female patient whose speech consisted of rapid, repetitive sequences of nonsensical utterances, so-called neologisms. Fascinated by the patient’s speech disorder, her disability to communicate by means of language and her ability to convey meaning nonverbally, I decided to study linguistics. I graduated from the University of Zurich in 1990 with Master’s degrees in German literature, German linguistics, English literature, and English linguistics. With the teenage memory of the babbling Wernicke’s aphasic still vividly reverberating in my mind, I ventured into a PhD project on the gestural behavior of aphasic patients. Funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, I spent two years at the Boston VA Medical Center working with the late Dr. Harold Goodglass, who was the director of the renowned Aphasia Research Center. In 1998 I earned my PhD from the University of Zurich and a year later my book entitled Gesture and Aphasia was published. Before moving to Los Angeles in 2000, I started working on yet another government funded research project focusing on the language of psychiatric patients. Besides research, I have always had a passion for teaching and have spent a considerable amount of time in classrooms teaching almost all levels from elementary school to university. Coming from a multilingual country I speak five languages more or less fluently and, as a language fanatic, never seem to get tired of learning more.