What We Do
Linguistics is a well-established UNT program which transferred in Fall 2014 from the College of Arts and Sciences to the College of Information (COI).
We offer a BA in Linguistics, a BA with a minor in Information Science, an MA in Linguistics, MA in ESL, and a GAC in TESOL. We also participate in an interdisciplinary Library and Information Science Ph.D.
Our strengths lie in our established TESOL program and research areas in language variation and change, language documentation, and the linguistic analysis of literature. We also have a new focus of language technology and language data curation. Our international collaborations currently are with Mexico, India, Pakistan and China.
The move to COI has positioned Linguistics in a collaborative environment for developing cutting-edge curricula that incorporates research on language structure and use with database design and management, text mining, and computational and quantitative methods in linguistics, and natural language processing. A natural outgrowth of this relationship and expanded focus will be new directions in linguistic research that are currently at the forefront of the field and highly fundable by external funding agencies.
Documenting Endangered Languages
One of the internationally recognized strengths of UNT Linguistics is language documentation and description of endangered languages. Three tenured faculty members, Timothy Montler (Affiliated Faculty) and Sadaf Munshi have received National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funding for their work in this area, and Shobhana Chelliah has received NSF grants and NEH and American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) fellowships for her documentation research. Ivy Doak (Adjunct Faculty) and Willem de Reuse (Research Professor), are also renowned language documentation scholars and have received both NSF and NEH funding for their research. Shobhana Chelliah’s service at NSF as the Program Director for NSF’s Documenting Endangered Languages Program (2012-2014) underlines UNT’s strength in this field.
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
UNT Linguistics has a long history running a successful MA TESOL program, including a popular two-year Graduate Academic Certificate in TESOL. There is an added richness to our TESOL program because of our research strengths on English dialects, the structure of English, and the study of English in the colonized world. In addition, our TESOL program is enriched by our ties with the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México (UAEM) and international practica opportunities.
Language Variation and Change
UNT linguists have expertise in the study of language variation and change, specifically grammatical variation and change over time in African American Vernacular English (AAVE). Additional areas include, language and identity, perceptual dialectology, language contact, and language planning policy.
UNT linguists are actively creating accessible and searchable language databases to further data provenance and sharing. These include: Oral History of Linguistics: Haj Ross, in collaboration with Dr. John Goldsmith of the University of Chicago, is recording and archiving conversations with founders of the field of modern linguists, creating the first digital history of the field. Archive of squibs: Haj Ross has begun an Internet collection of hundreds of short notes that describe unsolved problems in syntax, semantics, and phonology. This website is of great value for linguists around the world as well as students who are looking for paper and thesis topics. Language websites and archives: Sadaf Munshi, Willem de Reuse, Shobhana Chelliah, and Timothy Montler host websites of language data for endangered languages. The analyzed data and digital recordings on these sites are used by language communities for revitalization work and are available to linguists for deriving generalizations about language structure.
The newest focus of the UNT Linguistics Department’s graduate offerings is computational linguistics (CL). CL technologies are increasingly present in daily life, from voice-enabled smart phone assistants to predictive text input to machine translation technologies. From an academic viewpoint, CL is the scientific study of language from a computational perspective, living at the intersection of language and technology. Students develop keen skills in linguistics and linguistic analysis. This knowledge can then be applied to the design of computational systems for automating linguistic analysis. At UNT we place a particular focus on how computational methods can support the work of documenting endangered languages, linking two of our department’s strengths.