About the Program in Linguistics

Emory Program in Linguistics LogoEmory's Program in Linguistics represents the contemporary field of linguistics as it is situated at the intersection of the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Our central mission is to promote wider understanding of the centrality of language to the human condition, to foster an intellectual climate for cutting-edge interdisciplinary research on language, and to introduce students to the scientific and critical study of human language and communication.

Our primary areas of research and teaching include: description and analysis of linguistic structure and use, relations between language and the mind/brain, first and second language acquisition/literacy, relations between language, society and culture, causes and consequences of language change, contact and variation, and the role of linguistic evidence and communicative practices in scientific and humanistic research.

In these overlapping areas of research and in our curriculum, we explore language as a physiological, psychological, social, cultural and political phenomenon. Given the multifaceted nature of language and the questions (see below) pertaining to it, we incorporate a diversity of modes of inquiry in our research and teaching. At the undergraduate level, we prepare students for graduate or professional study in a variety of fields, and, more generally, to meet the challenges of our multicultural society and ever more globalized world.

Linguistics explores a range of questions about language. At Emory we are particularly concerned with questions such as these:

  • What are the basic "building blocks" of language?
  • Why are languages structured the way they are?
  • How do meanings get attached to words?
  • How do children and adults learn language?
  • How are language and thought related?
  • What about the human mind/brain makes language possible?
  • How and why do languages vary and change?
  • How do people use language in multilingual contexts?
  • What beliefs do people have about language and why do they have them?
  • How can problems with cross-cultural communication be alleviated?