December 16th, 2006


The Five Departments We Need the Most, Number 1: Linguistics

  • Who needs it: People in speech communications, linguistic anthropology, modern languages, psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, and many other domains involving human language would benefit from collaborations with full-time (first career) linguists.

  • Why we need it: We would be able to make advances in translation science, including machine translation; information extraction; first, second, and foreign language acquisition; cognitive modeling in speech production and linguistic memory; analysis and curation of endangered languages; and many other such fields.

  • When we need it (and how long we've needed it): We've needed a linguist for over a decade, when Speech Communications lost the last "full time linguist" to retirement. Since then, Dr. Harriet Ottenmeyer has retired from Anthropology, a department that has hired a linguistic anthropologist (Dr. Tiffany Kershner), and we've talked with linguistic anthropology faculty at other universities (Dr. Arienne Dwyer at KU, for example), but there isn't a linguistics degree program, much less a department.

  • How bad we need it: The Targeted Excellence proposal brought together at least eight people who could start working with one or more linguists in various areas.

  • Where it should live (i.e., to what college it should belong): Most likely, a Department of Linguistics ought to be part of the College of Arts and Sciences, possibly sharing some faculty with Modern Languages via joint appointment. I don't know the structure of the ML program well enough to know whether spinoff adjunct appointments are feasible or desired by the faculty and administrators.