Chair of the Department: Dana McDaniel
Professors: McDaniel, Shepard-Kegl; Assistant Professors: Heil, Wood
Language plays a crucial role in almost every aspect of human life; it is fundamental to commerce, government, education, science, technology, the arts, and the mass media. The field of linguistics is devoted to the study of language, its nature, its uses, and its limitations. Because of its wide relevance, undergraduate study in linguistics can be a springboard to careers in many areas, from education to computer science.
The linguistics major consists of courses designed to foster a deep understanding of human natural language, 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.
Beyond this intellectual foundation, students have four options. They can major in general linguistics or they can choose one of three concentrations: ASL/English Interpreting, ASL Linguistics, or Speech and Language Science. These options are designed to meet the needs of four specific categories of student. The ASL/English Interpreting Concentration is intended for students who wish to eventually become nationally certified ASL/English interpreters. The ASL Linguistics Concentration is for students interested in the ASL language, Deaf culture, and linguistics who plan to pursue a career other than interpreting that involves deafness and the Deaf community. The Speech and Language Science Concentration is designed for students who wish to pursue a career in speech-language pathology, audiology, or related disciplines. The general linguistics major serves students who have an interest in language as an aspect of human nature or who wish to pursue graduate education in linguistics or language-related areas.
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.