LINGUIST List 4.821

Mon 11 Oct 1993

Disc: Harvard Linguistics Department

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Larry Horn, Re: 4.811 Harvard Linguistics
  2. Ronald Fein, Harvard Ling. dept.
  3. , Harvard linguistics (cont'd)
  4. , Re: 4.811 Harvard Linguistics

Message 1: Re: 4.811 Harvard Linguistics

Date: Mon, 11 Oct 93 11:26:30 EDRe: 4.811 Harvard Linguistics
Subject: Re: 4.811 Harvard Linguistics

In response to David Silva's query (and to clear things up for anyone else
who's wondering): the Department of Linguistics at Yale is alive and well,
and (after the unfortunate one-year hiatus you may recall) we're currently
receiving applications for our graduate program, as we did last year. On the
basis of the recommendations of the ad hoc committee (a mixed
internal/external committee whose membership included Barbara Partee and Cal
Watkins), the administration preserved the Department and authorized a search
to fill a senior/chair position whose description will be posted soon on the
net as well as advertised in the LSA Bulletin. It is indeed ironic that the
Harvard department is now in approximately the same straits we were in two
years ago. In fact, I found myself, in writing to the Harvard deans, quoting
passages from the same letters I wrote to our administrators here. I don't
think that linguistics programs outside a departmental framework are ipso
facto impossible; there are certainly many fine programs that would controvert
such a generalization. But at Yale--and from what I can tell at Harvard--the
framework around which a coherent program can be organized, especially on a
graduate level, does not exist and probably cannot be cobbled together. In
such a context, the elimination of the department is tantamount to the
elimination of linguistics and should be staunchly resisted.
 Larry Horn
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Message 2: Harvard Ling. dept.

Date: Mon, 4 Oct 1993 19:34:33 -Harvard Ling. dept.
From: Ronald Fein <>
Subject: Harvard Ling. dept.

Hello, I am a senior at Harvard majoring in linguistics, and a co-founder
of the Harvard-Radcliffe Undergraduate Linguists Society. The Harvard
University Department of Linguistics is in imminent danger of being cut, and
replaced by a committee consisting of faculty in "related" fields (e.g.
behavioral psychology, if you get my point.)

We (the HRULS) are a group of undergraduate linguistics majors concerned
about this move and we are attempting to fight it. The Harvard Linguistics
Department is the site of much important research and complements the MIT
department nicely (we have strengths where they are weak, and vice versa),
and as such it would be a shame to lose it.

We invite anyone who is interested or concerned to help us resist the
administration in this maneuver (which is apparently largely political.)
For more information, please write to me (


Ron Fein |
Cabot House Box 216, Harvard University | fein2husc11.bitnet
Cambridge, MA 02138-1560 | (617) 493-5739
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Message 3: Harvard linguistics (cont'd)

Date: Mon, 11 Oct 93 17:57:57 EDHarvard linguistics (cont'd)
From: <>
Subject: Harvard linguistics (cont'd)

I hope the following facts about the Advisory Committee for Harvard
linguistics will allay some fears and lead to more constructive
action being taken.

As reported in the Harvard Gazette of October 8, 1993, the faculty
committee will "consider a number of options for restructuring the
teaching of linguistics: a graduate degree committee, an undergraduate
degree committee, or an interdisciplinary coordinating committee".
For those who don't already know, it is important to note that
Harvard's interdisciplinary undergraduate degree-granting committees
run some of the best educational programs at Harvard, such as social
studies and literature. There is a long tradition of success for this
model at Harvard.

In addition to the chair, Warren Goldfarb (Philosophy), the committee
includes the Dean for Undergraduate Education, the Dean for the
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, two professors of linguistics
(Susumo Kuno, Professor of Linguistics; Calvert Watkins, Professor of
Linguistics and the Classics), and two professors with connections to
linguistics (Barbara Grosz, Professor of Computer Science; Stephen
Owen, East Asian Languages and Civilizations).

As I stated in a posting sent earlier: the FAS administration is NOT
proposing to wipe out linguistics at Harvard.
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Message 4: Re: 4.811 Harvard Linguistics

Date: Mon, 11 Oct 93 17:58:08 -0Re: 4.811 Harvard Linguistics
From: <>
Subject: Re: 4.811 Harvard Linguistics

As a Harvard linguistics major (class of '94) and co-organizer of the move
to fight the proposed closure, let me verify that everything Mark said was
absolutely accurate (I thought I'd posted to this group as well, perhaps I
forgot; I certainly posted to sci.lang.) The administration is moving to
close the department for a variety of reasons, all of which are frankly
bulls--t; as for the real reasons, we can only speculate.

The Harvard-Radcliffe Undergraduate Linguists' Society is fighting this move.
If you are interested, email me ( or Mark Kille
(, or send us SnailMail c/o Linguistics Dept.,
Grays Hall Basement, Harvard University, Cambridge MA 02138-1560

Even better, send a letter to

Prof. Jeremy Knowles, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
University Hall, Harvard Yard
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138

(by the way, in the address of the linguistics dept., delete "-1560"; just
02138 is correct.)

explaining why you are opposed to the elimination of the Harvard linguistics
department. If you are an alum, mention that your displeasure might manifest
itself in a variety of ways. (hint, hint)


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