2020-21 Catalogs

Linguistics Overview

Chair of the Department: Dana McDaniel

Professors: McDaniel, Shepard-Kegl; Assistant Professors: Heil, Wood; Lecturer: Holman

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 six options. They can major in general linguistics, or they can choose one of five concentrations: ASL/English Interpreting, ASL Linguistics, French Linguistics, Spanish Linguistics, or Speech and Language Science. These options are designed to meet the needs of specific categories of students.

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 ASL/English Interpreting Concentration is intended for students who wish to eventually become nationally certified ASL/English interpreters. The ASL Linguistics Concentration is meant for students interested in the ASL language, Deaf culture, and linguistics who plan to pursue a career other than interpreting that involves working with the Deaf community.

The French and Spanish Linguistics concentrations are intended for students interested in the French or Spanish language who plan to pursue careers or graduate studies relating to linguistics or the languages. Students in these concentrations also have the option of pursuing K-12 certification as preparation for careers as K-12 French or Spanish teachers.

The Speech and Language Science Concentration is designed for students who wish to pursue a career in speech-language pathology, audiology, or related disciplines.

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.