Saturday, December 4, 2010

How I became a linguist

Of course there is a sense in which my previous post explains how I became a linguist as well as why. But in this post I just want to outline the more technical training I received over the last ten years, in case some of you are thinking about studying linguistics as well. I got most of my training 2000-2007 at the various SIL schools around the US: SIL at the University of North Dakota, Oregon SIL in Eugene, Oregon, and the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics in Dallas, Texas.

Here below I’ll list the courses I took as a way of familiarizing you with some of what ‘linguistics’ includes:

Articulatory Phonetics (the study of how sounds are physically made and perceived, and how they are written in a special alphabet called the International Phonetic Alphabet)

Morphology & Syntax (the study of how words and sentences, respectively, are formed)

Second Language & Culture Acquisition (as they name implies, a course teaching methods and strategies for learning a foreign language and culture more quickly)

Sociolinguistics (the sociological study of language, i.e. how languages are used in society)

Anthropological Linguistics (the study of language from an anthropological perspective, i.e. the study of language as part of what it means to be human, rather than just language as a system)

Phonology (the study of the psychological or mental side of how speakers produce and perceive the sounds of their language, and how to analyze the system)

Cultural Anthropology (the study of worldviews, cultures, and methods for investigating them)

Historical-Comparative Linguistics (the study of how languages change over time and how languages are ‘genetically’ related)

Language Survey Methods (the study of how to conduct sociolinguistic research to determine what languages and dialects are spoken in a region, and what language development needs they may have)

Field Methods (a course that teaches how to conduct practical field research in linguistics)

Orality & Storytelling (a course teaching about orality, as opposed to literacy, and how oral cultures use stories to communicate)

Discourse Analysis (the study of how words, phrases, and sentences get put together to form larger chunks of language, like paragraphs and whole texts)

Advanced Phonology (a course looking at difficult phonological questions from a theoretical point of view)

Culture, Language & Mind (a course in ‘cognitive anthropology’, i.e. the study of the role of the mind and brain in producing language and culture)

Advanced Grammar (a course in how to analyze syntax (word order/sentence formation) from a certain theoretical perspective)

Semantics & Pragmatics (the study of meaning in language, which includes instruction on how to make a dictionary with good definitions)

Translation (a course introducing Bible translation philosophy and methods)

So much for how I became a linguist. How I became a ‘Bible translator’ further involved courses in Greek, Hebrew, exegesis, and Biblical background studies.

If anybody would like to know more about where to take these kinds of courses, don’t hesitate to contact me. A world of fascinating intellectual adventures awaits you, a world where ‘colorless green ideas sleep furiously’ and where ‘verbing weirds languages’!

1 comment:

Kate said...

Yay for the Chomsky shout-out! And thanks for these two posts - it's a great testimony of how God in His sovereignty can intertwine so many small things to ignite a particular passion in our hearts that He will use to glorify Himself!