Monthly Lectures 2018-2019

Date Title Speaker (Affiliation)
Oct 6, 2018 Why study linguistics? A subject for today's students Fatima Tariq, Kimberly Martinez, Arianna Chinchilla, and Alessandra Rosen (Hunter College)
Nov 10, 2018 Usage-based Linguistics Meets Pedagogical Grammar Lourdes Ortega (Georgetown University)
Dec 1, 2018 Revitalizing endangered languages K. David Harrison (Swarthmore College)
Feb 2, 2019 About the Chaldaeans: August Ludwig von Schlözer and the Discovery of Semitic Charles Haberl
Mar 2, 2019 The Impact of Language Planning and Policies on Vitality of Languages: A Case Study of the Pakistani Linguistic Situation Asher John

Oct 6, 2018

Why study linguistics? A subject for today's students

Fatima Tariq, Kimberly Martinez, Arianna Chinchilla, and Alessandra Rosen (Hunter College)

Time: 11am - 12noon
Venue: Hunter College, West Building, 904 Lexington Avenue, Room 424, New York, NY 10065

Hunter College has no Department of Linguistics and does not offer a degree in the subject. Yet, the college has an active linguistics club that holds regular meetings and organizes a conference every year. At this meeting, the students who lead this club, Fatima Tariq (President), Kimberley Martinez (Treasurer), Alessandra Rosen, and Arianna Chinchilla, will address questions about their interest in the subject:

  • What led them to linguistics in the first place?
  • Which courses have they been able to take, and where?
  • Which of these courses have proved most interesting, and why?
  • What has been their experience of promoting an interest in linguistics among other students?
  • How have faculty members been most helpful to them?
  • How have their linguistics studies contributed to their understanding of other subjects?
  • How do they hope to use linguistics in their future careers?
  • What suggestions can they make for promoting linguistics more widely?

The students will speak as a panel in a discussion led by Professor Kate Parry of Hunter College. Members of the audience will be invited and encouraged to participate throughout.




Nov 10, 2018

Usage-based Linguistics Meets Pedagogical Grammar

Lourdes Ortega (Georgetown University)

Time: 11am - 12noon
Venue: Hunter College, West Building, 904 Lexington Avenue, Room 424, New York, NY 10065

As a second language acquisition researcher, in the past 20 years I have witnessed great changes in the disciplinary understandings of what language is: from a formal or functional system, to jointly constructed social action, to a multi-semiotic repertoire. These differing views of the nature of language, or language ontologies, in turn inform key aspects of language teaching. Most particularly, they have consequences for the teaching of grammar in curricular contexts where grammar is still taught. In this talk, I consider how approaches to pedagogical grammar can be transformed by usage-based linguistics. I will examine some areas which can benefit from usage-based insights, including the ideal balance between form and meaning in instruction, the need to support linguistic confidence and harmonious bilingualism while teaching grammar, and the conflicted roles of authentic materials and native speaker models in language classrooms. Taking these ideas on board would move the field of grammar teaching from form-focused instruction to usage-inspired instruction.

PowerPoint slides of the talk can be downloaded here


Dec 1, 2018

Revitalizing endangered languages

K. David Harrison (Swarthmore College)

Time: 11am - 12noon
Venue: Hunter College, West Building, 904 Lexington Avenue, Room 424, New York, NY 10065

The world's 7,000+ languages are in drastic decline, and most are predicted to vanish before they will be recorded or documented. Dr. Harrison argues that language extinction leads to intellectual impoverishment in all fields of science and culture. Entire bodies of unwritten knowledge that have sustained us on this planet are eroding. Concerted efforts to sustain, value and revitalize our linguistic diversity are now underway in indigenous communities worldwide, and may help to reverse the process. This presentation features photos and video clips of speakers of some of the world's most endangered languages, from Siberia, India, the USA and other locations, and will demonstrate how indigenous activists and linguists are working to sustain languages through technology and art.

Dr. Harrison is a linguist and specialist in language endangerment, and a National Geographic Explorer. He has done extensive fieldwork in Siberia, India, Mongolia, Vanuatu and other locations. As director of National Geographic's "Enduring Voices Project" he leads scientific expeditions to remote communiites to document their languages and assist in language revitalization.




Feb 2, 2019

About the Chaldaeans: August Ludwig von Schlözer and the Discovery of Semitic

Charles Haberl

Time: 11am - 12noon
Venue: Hunter College, West Building, 904 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10065

The subject of this talk, the 18th century Orientalist August Ludwig von Schlözer, stands right at the nexus of the science and the art of modern linguistic speculation, and it was his philosophical investigations that laid the foundation for both to flourish. In what is probably the most widely cited, but proportionately least read, article in the field of historical and comparative Semitics, his lengthy 1781 study von der Chaldäer or "About the Chaldaeans," which he published in Johann Gottfried Eichhorn's Repertorium für biblische und morgenländische Literatur, he coins the term "Semitic" and proposes it as a substitute for "Oriental Languages," the category under which these languages were formerly subsumed. In doing so, he constructed a genealogical framework for these languages (and indeed languages more generally) for the very first time in the literature, with attendant effects in their study. The category of "Chaldaean" that he addresses is a useful one to trace, as generations of scholars had formerly situated a real nation, with a real language (Chaldaic), a real religion (Chaldaism), and a real territory (Chaldaea) within it, but from the turn of the 20th century onward the category has become increasingly deprecated, and these constructs have largely disappeared from recent scholarship, thanks in some part to the concerns that Schlözer raises in his study. As a consequence, the term "Chaldean" has been inherited exclusively by a certain community of Christians primarily from Iraq. This gives me the opportunity to discuss issues of the study of the Semitic languages more generally, including (but not limited to) their classification, and reveal to what extent these things are "found objects" and to what extent they are art rather than science, which is to say that their value and meaning are constructed and imposed upon them by communities such as ours.




Mar 2, 2019

The Impact of Language Planning and Policies on Vitality of Languages: A Case Study of the Pakistani Linguistic Situation

Asher John

Time: 11am - 12noon
Venue: Hunter College, West Building, 904 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10065

This paper will cover the broader linguistic situation in a multi-linguistic and multiethnic Pakistan. The main focus will be Punjabi, a major language in the country. The presentation will comprise of two parts; the first part will briefly introduce the audience to the present linguistic situation of Pakistan and provide a brief history of different language policies since the inception of the country in 1947. This part will also cover the impact of these policies on the vitality and status of these languages. The second part will focus on issues related to the vitality, perception, status, and the future of Punjabi in Pakistani Punjab. It will also focus on how these policies based on a so-called ideology of Pakistan have affected the language attitudes and perceptions of the populace towards their own mother tongue in the province of Punjab.




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