Linguistics at USM provides a rigorous undergraduate education focused on the nature, organization, acquisition, and origins of human natural language. The Linguistics major provides three pathways: B.A. in Linguistics (general linguistics, no concentration); B.A. in Linguistics with concentration in ASL/English Interpreting; and B.A. in Linguistics with concentration in Speech and Language Science.
The linguistics major consists of linguistics courses designed to foster a deep understanding of human natural language (spoken and signed), including an appreciation of the structure and organization of natural languages, the variety of natural languages, the commonalities that underlie the vast apparent differences among languages, the processes of language acquisition in children, the psychological and neurological bases of language use, and the form and significance of social variation in language.
The goals of the linguistics major are 1) to help each student develop an understanding of the nature of natural language, 2) to help each student develop a foundation of more specialized expertise relevant to the student's career goals, and 3) to help each student compile a record of achievement that will facilitate the student's search for employment or further education.
The General Linguistics major is intended for students who are looking for a rigorous liberal arts major with rich connections to a variety of science, humanities, and arts disciplines. This track is also appropriate for students who intend to do graduate study in linguistics or related disciplines such as cognitive science, computational linguistics, law, or education, among others.
For students with an interest in American Sign Language or interpreting, we have in place a four-year interpreter training program, including courses in ASL and in interpreting theory and process. Launched in 1998 with support from the Maine Dept. of Education, these offerings are designed to serve undergraduate students at USM as well as working interpreters seeking to advance their skills. The program is directed by Dr. Judy Kegl.
Students interested in Speech-Language Science will find that linguistics provides an excellent foundation for their professional training. First, linguistics will offer a broad understanding of how normal language works and how it varies both within and across human communities. Second, linguistics has proven to be an excellent base from which to apply for graduate school admission in speech-language pathology or audiology.
Graduates of the program have been admitted to masters or doctoral programs at Boston University, McGill University (Montreal), Syracuse University, UCLA, University of Massachusetts (Amherst), and Vanderbilt University, among others.