Jason Smith was born in Olympia, Washington in 1974, but mostly grew up on military bases in five different states and in Germany. Upon graduation from high school, he returned to Washington State and received a B.A. in English (Creative Writing) from Western Washington University in 1997. A few years later, after an experience working with Spanish-English bilingual children in a public school in rural Washington inspired him to learn Spanish, Smith decided to move to Guadalajara, Mexico to teach English. Much to his surprise, he fell in love with grammar—not the “don’t end a sentence in a preposition” variety, but rather all the hidden structure behind our daily communication that only reveals itself slowly upon careful study.
Smith returned to school to get a B.A. in Spanish from Eastern Washington University in 2004 and then entered a graduate program in Hispanic Linguistics at the University of California-Davis. There he studied Spanish phonology, second language acquisition, and the history of the Spanish language, eventually earning an M.A. in 2006 and a Ph.D. in 2011. His dissertation was an eye-glazing analysis of the interaction between phonology and morphology in the formation of Spanish diminutives (for example, abuela ~ abuelita) in several dialects. In 2010, he began teaching at SUU and has taught all levels of the Spanish language, as well as introductory courses in linguistics and the history of the Spanish language.
In 2012, he and his wife welcomed Oliver Porter to the world. Smith thought he would have so much to teach his young son, but, so far, it has mostly been the other way around.