It’s Not Just What You Say

By Adam FallujiStaff Writer

A liberal arts education provides a diverse and thorough knowledge base. To this end, students are well-versed in all subjects, and can make an informed choice toward which major their interests are tailored.
Selecting an area of focus for one’s studies at Centre can be difficult when there are so many different majors from which to choose, but selecting a minor that complements your interests comes with its own challenge. Minors at Centre are supplementary disciplines and have a great variety, and can be matched to a major with surprising efficacy.

Associate Professor of Spanish Dr. Phyllis Bellver reviewed phonetics and symbols for specific sounds during a Spanish Linguistics class.

Associate Professor of Spanish Dr. Phyllis Bellver reviewed phonetics and symbols for specific sounds during a Spanish Linguistics class.

Relatively new since its establishment with the funding of the Mellon grant, the Linguistics minor is an open and interesting option for Centre students. An interdisciplinary subject, there is no constraining inclination to any specific area in the minor. Rather, students can take it in several different directions.
Students take a basic, i.e. Intro to Linguistics, course and then are able to direct the minor to their interests. Linguistics minors are pushed to take field trips to transcribe data and talk to real people that speak with a particular dialect.
One project that students undertake is finding non-native English speakers and trying to learn their language and collect data, finishing with a capstone project.
The minor aims to have students learn the philosophy behind language and analyze the common traits among all languages as well as analyze the cognitive and behavioral factors on the development, usage, and distinction among dialects.
In addition to LIN 210, an Introduction to Linguistics class, students must study a second year of a language, a requirement that follows a similar format to that of the language scholarship.
Students also are pushed to explore other classes that serve to broaden their understanding of linguistics. Courses in psychology are important so students can understand the influence of cognition. Although not required, students can also learn computer science as it is also a patterned system of communication. Philosophy is often called the parent of linguistics. Given this connection, philosophy courses are often a central part of the minor’s curriculum.
Bellver is the chair of the linguistics program and emphasizes the importance and patterns and cognition in her field of study.
“It’s coming to the understanding of the patterns that shape all languages.” Professor Bellver said. “It seems at the first glance overwhelming but when you do break it down it tends to lead back to the human brain and what cognitive processes we use. And they all have similar patterns at their roots. I couldn’t say every language has similar verbs but everything has an order.”
Students of various majors entertain the idea of completing a linguistics minor. Many linguistics minors are often psychology majors and study speech pathology.
Linguistics minors also tend to be students who study multiple languages. The students agree that because they realize the patterns and consistencies shared by all languages, fulfilling a linguistics minor is a realistic goal. Anthropology majors are also common minors in this concentration. Studying linguistics is strongly linked to studying different cultures, their respective histories, and the basic reasoning behind their phonetic tendencies and word choices.
“Another issue [that the students study] is really understanding why people speak different dialects and the history behind that [choice] as well as the consequences,” Bellver said. “There are very strong social consequences for using one dialect instead of another.”
Studying abroad is synonymous with Centre. Linguistics minors especially enjoy applying the insight that they learn from their classes regarding language and culture to their classes overseas. Linguistics students frequently study in Japan, China, Spain, and London.
Linguistics is a growing and innovative field, with research being constantly conducted on languages and their origins. On Mar. 4, Centre will host a talk on the language of the Chickasaw Native Americans and their revitalization program for their dialect and language.
Assistant Professor of Spanish Jason Doroga enjoys the fact that studying linguistics is a way to connect one group of individuals to another despite their diversity.
“Language is one of the most central and unique human abilities. Studying linguistics at Centre can be part of an invigorating journey to becoming a more global, universal citizen,” Doroga said. “Any curious student will enjoy exploring the courses we offer in linguistics. The minor will enrich the experience of number of different majors on campus such as language, psychology, philosophy, and anthropology.”
Students who have chosen to pursue a linguistics minor will gain insight in the diversity of language, a crucial human attribute. Remember that you can gain as much from your minor as you can from your major.


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