Students interested in studying human language will benefit from a new linguistics major in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. While the subject itself is not new to Carnegie Mellon, the major enables students to integrate linguistics offerings across multiple departments into one program of study.
"Language is enormously central in human life," said Mandy Simons, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon and director of the program. "What we want students to take away from this program is an understanding of how language works and of how people work with language."
According to Simons, understanding how people use language — and why they use language the way they do — helps the individual become a better citizen. This is especially important in a globalized society where successful communication across languages, dialects and cultures is so often vital.
The new major is structured around a set of core courses that teach fundamental skills for language analysis. These courses are combined with a wide range of electives that allow students to examine language in its human context. Students can elect a focus on language and mind; language and society; or language and communication.
"The new major is a reflection of the variety of resources available at Carnegie Mellon for studying linguistics," added Simons. "And Carnegie Mellon is a great place to be for students interested in learning more than one approach to the subject."
Housed in the Department of Philosophy, the major is a collaborative effort between the Departments of English, Modern Languages, Psychology and Philosophy, and the School of Computer Science's Language Technologies Institute.