UK Becomes Multilingual, Thanks to Linguistics Society of America

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 28, 2017) ― If you have been anywhere near the University of Kentucky’s Don & Cathy Jacobs Science Building this month, it is more than likely you heard at least one language you have never heard before. Since the beginning of July, there have been people on campus speaking a plethora languages ranging from Mauritian Creole to Farsi to Kalaallisut, the language spoken by the indigenous people of Greenland.

The UK College of Arts and Sciences is hosting the Linguistics Society of America’s (LSA) biennial Linguistic Institute, the world’s largest extended gathering of linguists. Institute Program Director Jo Mackby was quick to dispel the common misconception that linguists only learn how to speak foreign languages.

“Linguistics is the scientific study of natural human language and has many subfields, such as dialectology (the study of dialects), semantics (the study of meaning), syntax (the set of rules that govern language), sign language linguistics and creolistics (the study of the languages that emerged from colonialism and slavery),” said Mackby, a graduate of UK’s linguistics master’s program.

The Linguistic Institute offers a forum for linguists to come together and not only expand their own knowledge, but also help advance the study of linguistics.

“What makes the Linguistic Institute special is that it is a way for the field of linguistics to refresh itself every two years. It’s a way of driving the discipline forward,” said Andrew Hippisley, chair of the Department of Linguistics and co-director of this year’s institute.

The LSA Institute is held for one month every two years in order to, in the words of the LSA, “provide advanced training in linguistics that is not readily available through the regular course offerings of any single academic institution.” LSA and the UK College of Arts and Sciences are accomplishing this goal exhaustively this year, offering 75 specialized courses, four academic…

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