Jamie Thomas presents her poster on 'Global Flows in Nicknaming as Language Play in Second Language Swahili' at the 2015 Georgetown University Roundtable on Linguistics. Professor Thomas researches identity formation in study abroad and language learning. She publishes ethnographic videos on her research, and guides students in Intro to Sociolinguistics to research their own #languagestory. See student projects here. Professor Thomas is teaching Structure of Swahili this fall.
For most of the students in Brook Lillehaugen’s Introduction to Linguistics class, the final project meant a term paper. But when the professor offered the option of a creative project instead of an essay, Kyra Neiman ’17 (right) picked up her needle and thread. Professor Lillehaugen’s students interview bilingual individuals about their language experiences and then, based on data from those interviews, analyze a particular aspect of the bilingual experience. Click here to read the whole story.
Shelby Daniel-Wayman, 16' (left) from Donna Jo Napoli's class "Supporting Literacy Among Deaf Children" shows a student her bilingual-bimodal ebook project that promotes shared reading between hearing adults and their deaf children. This course was done in collaboration with Students from Tri-College (Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore), the University of Pennsylvania, and Gallaudet University.
Ivy Drexel, Bryn Mawr College ’14 is a Program Assistant for the Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages at the Smithsonian Institution where she plans logistical, organizational, and administrative aspects of the 2015 program. Breath of Life is one of the Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices’ largest initiatives for their mission of language revitalization. She also assists in locating and digitizing archival materials. Ivy’s research interests include Native American language semantics and political discourse.
Emily Gasser says goodbye to young members of the Wamesa speech community after a week of fieldwork in Windesi Village. Professor Gasser studies the phonology and morphology of Wamesa and its historical relationships to other nearby languages based on her fieldwork in West Papua, Indonesia. She is teaching a seminar on Austronesian phonological typology this spring semester, as well as Syntax and Morphology.
Brook Lillehaugen, Tri-College Assistant Professor, and ethnohistorian Michel R. Oudijk examine 400 year old manuscripts written in Zapotec at the Archivo General de la Nación in Mexico City. Oudijk and Lillehaugen collaborate with other researchers on the Ticha Project, an online digital text explorer for Colonial Zapotec texts. Professor Lillehaugen is teaching Intro to Linguistics in the spring at Swarthmore College.
Students work on elements of the Lenape Language, such as analyzing and rewriting text samples according to current spelling conventions, writing and speaking original works, and developing projects and resources in the language. Students also view and discuss a variety of lithic artifacts: mulling stones, net sinkers, axes, bolas, points, scrapers, paint pots and ochres. View student projects.
Shelley DePaul, Lenape Language Instructor (right) and Holly Smith '14
Donna Jo Napoli's fall class "Supporting Literacy among Deaf Children". Students at Gallaudet University, University of Pennsylvania, and Swarthmore College collaborate on making bilingual-bimodal ebooks to promote shared reading between hearing adults and their deaf children. Professor Napoli is on leave the spring of 2015 and spring of 2016.
David Harrison shows Yokoim speaker Nick Waikai the video playback of his water spirit myth. At the National Geographic blog, Professor Harrison guest blogs about two new talking dictionaries for Yokoim, a language spoken by fewer than 2,000 people and Panim, a language spoken by fewer than 400 people. Professor Harrison works with speakers of endangered languages helping them capture their words in Talking Dictionaries.
The Navajo Language Academy workshop participants rehearsing a syntax song that Ted Fernald wrote, and which consists of phrase structure rules for a basic grammar of Navajo. Left to right: Ted Fernald, Rose Gambler, Louise Ramone, and Fermin Silago. Professor Fernald is teaching The Structure of Navajo in the spring.
There are 7,000 languages in the world, and we're interested in studying all of them. Linguistics is the scientific study of language—we develop techniques to explore patterns that all human languages have in common and investigate the ways in which each is unique. Our explorations yield insights not only about languages, but also about the nature of the human mind.
Linguistics at Swarthmore
Students learn linguistics at Swarthmore through interacting with the information and each other. Coursework and problem sets challenge students to develop their own insights and construct arguments supporting their claims. Professors guide the process, ultimately leading to a fuller understanding of linguistic theory than one could attain by absorbing theories presented in classes and texts.
The community of learning is enhanced and expanded by the Linguistics Department's strong ties to Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges. Swarthmore Linguistics professors teach courses on all three campuses (though the vast majority are at Swarthmore), and linguistics courses regularly include students from all three schools.
Why study Linguistics?
The relevance of linguistics to the fields of anthropology, cognitive science, language study, philosophy, psychology, and sociology has been recognized for a long time. Linguistics crosslists courses from ten departments, reflecting the diversity of fields with strong relevance to our field. The interdisciplinary nature of the field, and our program, further encourages students to broaden their horizons and interact with a wide variety of students, scholars, and ideas.
Because the very nature of modern linguistic inquiry is to build arguments for particular analyses, the study of linguistics gives the student finely honed argumentation skills, which stand in good stead in careers in law, business, and any other profession where such skills are crucial.