LINGUIST List 3.529

Tue 23 Jun 1992

Disc: Linguistics

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  1. Vicki Fromkin, lx Birmingham etal

Message 1: lx Birmingham etal

Date: Sun, 21 Jun 92 11:02 PDT
From: Vicki Fromkin <IYO1VAFUCLAMVS.bitnet>
Subject: lx Birmingham etal

A suggestion in response to the query from Edmondson.

A number of years ago, under the leadership of Terry Langendoen when
Secretary-Treasurer, the Linguistic Society of America conducted a
project on undergraduate education in linguistics; the reports on courses,
syllabi, rationales to present to administrators etc is all there.
Rather than reinventing the computer the LSA should be contacted for
these materials which were produced by a sizeable and broad ranging
group of linguists.

All the questions Edmondson raises are probably not answered, but many

A few other comments on his questions:

1) links with other departments? In the U.S. linguistics departments for
the most part grew out of anthro, English, language departments. In
many universities there are strong ties between lx and anthro, psych, gy,
computer science, philosophy, and even medical depts with linguists also
part of lg departments. The inter disciplinary bent of linguists can
be a plus or minus when arguing for an independent lx dept, i.e.
some administrators think there is no problem woith having linguists all in
other departments rather than having their own. Where no department
or distinct program exists, it is difficult to attract good graduate
students and impossible to train them -- it is more difficult to develop
a critical mass and collaborative efforts and to strongly influence
the approach to language as taken in the other departments. And as Stemberger
and Horn and Prince etc point out, it makes linguists in other departments
more vulnerable etc etc.

2) Should Linguistics be in an Arts and Humanities, or Social Sciences
or Science Division or College? Well it is in all of them in the U.S.
often due to historical accident rather than deliberate decision. When
the LX department was formed at UCLA it pulled together linnguists from
English, Near Easter and African Languages, and Anthropology. Since
the majority were from English and NEAL, the department became part
of Humanities instead of Social Sciences where Anthro is. The major
reason against locating in Humanities is that Deans of Humanities do not
understand why linguistics needs labs (psycho & phonetics), lab
technicians, equipment, setup costs for new hires etc etc.

3) re numbers of students, where they come from etc. Some of this information
will I think be available from LSA and probably LGB. As to women: men
there was also an old study done by LSA on women in linguistics. These
figures re graduae students are also available from the NSF in the US;
I don't know about Britain. Where intro to language/lx courses ur
fulfill general ed requirements they are very large. At UCLA our
Lx 1 gets about 500/quarter three times a year. I understand at Indiana
and Ohio State and some other places the numbers are even greater. (We
have to turn away students each quarter). However, for majors the
numbers are obviously smaller, but our Intro to Lx (as opposed to Language)
gets about 80, phonetics 50-60 etc. Wish they were smaller. The
other major courses for undergraduates average about 20-30 (at least
I think so).

It would be helpful for departments that have recently (in the last
ten years) been established to send out the information on what
they did, material they submitted etc. I'm thinking of Maryland
which first got an UG major approved, then a PhD. There are others too.

There is a great demand for Linguistics/Commputer Science joint majors
for obvious reasons. And it might be of ingterest to know that many
of our graduates who have gone on to law school say lx is a great
pre-law major.

Vicki Fromkin
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