Bloomfield Book Award to UNC Linguistics Alums
The Linguistic Society of America announced that this year's Leonard Bloomfield Book Award has been given to African American Language, a book co-authored by several prominent scholars including two alumnae of the UNC Linguistics program, Mary Kohn (PhD 2013) and Jennifer Renn (MA 2005), as well as Walt Wolfram, a distinguished professor at NC State. The book makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of African American Language and its speakers. Through a longitudinal study of sixty-seven speakers of African American Language from infancy to adulthood, the book tracks language change and innovation as well as the construction of identity and negotiation of social capital through language.
Jamilläh Rodriguez joins Department of Linguistics
Jamilläh Rodriguez is joining the Department of Linguistics as a Post-doctoral Research Associate through the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity. Her dissertation, titled “The syntax and phonology of grammatical tone in Copala Triqui”, looked at the interface of tone and syntax in an indigenous language of Mexico and included data from her own fieldwork with diaspora communities in New York and Oaxaca City. She will obtain her Ph.D. in August 2021 from the State University of New York at Albany and earned her M.A. and B.A. in Linguistics from Stony Brook University. Jamilläh will be teaching Ling 401 Language and Computers in the Spring 2022 semester.
Her research interests include computational and experimental phonology, the syntax-phonology interface, language documentation, and diaspora linguistics. Research outside of her dissertation includes work on Brazilian Portuguese, Ch’ol, and Malawian CiTonga. She is particularly interested in interdisciplinary work and employing computational and quantitative methodologies in understudied and endangered languages. Jamilläh aims to include members of the communities on whose language she works on as active participants and researchers in her work, and values collaboration.
Outside of academia, Jamilläh enjoys painting, swimming, playing tabletop games with her husband, and spending time with her newborn son.
Letter to UNC Board of Trustees
Dear Mr. Stevens and other Members of the UNC Board of Trustees,
We write to you today out of grave concern for the future of our university as a leading institution of
higher education. Our system of higher education is built upon the understanding that knowledge is
increased and transmitted, science moves forward, and academic progress is achieved when scholars are
free to pursue their craft, even when, or perhaps especially when, their products of scholarship challenge
our understanding of our world, our society, and ourselves. This is at the heart of academic freedom, and
academic freedom is at the heart of what the university does. Therefore, we join our colleagues across
the University in demanding that you immediately consider the tenure case of Nikole Hannah-Jones,
including the body of her work and the careful review of it by highly esteemed individuals within her
field who are eminently qualified to make a judgment about whether she should receive tenure.
The Board’s failure to even consider her case is unjustifiable and has already done immense damage to
faculty morale and our national reputation. Furthermore, it undermines the department's ability to perform a basic and critical part of our job: namely, to mentor and prepare our faculty for
the tenure and promotion process.
We absolutely cannot continue to be a world-class university if we do not honor the principles of
academic freedom, and if we cannot firmly commit to treating all members of our community equitably.
Sincerely, the UNC Department of Linguistics
Remembering Sandra Eisdorfer
The Department of Linguistics remembers, with gratitude and sadness, one of our oldest friends and supporters in the UNC-CH community: Sandra Eisdorfer (1930-2021), mother of Marc Adam Eisdorfer (UNC-CH Linguistics, BA 1984).
Sandy's career revolved around a love of language. She received a Master of Library Science degree from the Pratt Institute and held librarian, teaching, and editing positions, ultimately becoming managing editor and acquisitions editor at the University of North Carolina Press. After her son Marc's death in 1992, Sandy founded the Marc Adam Eisdorfer Award for Excellence in Linguistics in his memory. The award allows the Department of Linguistics to recognize one or two outstanding undergraduate students and one or two outstanding graduate students each year, often honoring those who combine the passion for linguistics and enthusiasm for life that so characterized Marc.
Sandy's full obituary from the News & Observer can be found here.
Contributions to the Marc Adam Eisdorfer Award in Linguistics in Sandy's honor may be made here.
Heritage Language Research Institute
Together with Duke university and UCLA's National Heritage Language Resource Center, the UNC Department of Linguistics will co-host the Thirteenth Heritage Language Research Institute, June 7-10, 2021. The theme of this year's Institute is language similarity and language distance in bilingual/heritage language situations. We are accepting abstracts for poster presentations. For more information, and to submit an abstract, please see the event webpage.
Graduate Certificate in Computational Linguistics
The Department of Linguistics is now accepting applications for the Graduate Certificate program in Computational Linguistics jointly administered by the Department of Computer Science and the School of Information and Library Science. This program provides students who wish to work in the areas of machine translation, machine learning, speech-to-text software, natural language processing, natural language generation, and artificial intelligence with an understanding of human language structure and the skills of linguistic analysis as well as the computational tools to develop software applications to parse and generate human language.
Students complete 9 credit hours (3 courses) and attend a monthly brown bag seminar for the duration of their time in the program.
Application deadline: April 1, 2021. Please click here for more details.
Linguistics at Google
We had a mini-reunion of UNC linguists in June in Mountain View, CA. Misha Becker met with alums Emily Moeng, Ph.D., 2018, and Nolan Danley, BA, 2016, who now work at Google. Emily and Nolan shared insights about what aspects of their training in linguistics has been most helpful for their current work in the tech industry.They also kindly offered to assist current linguistics students who are hoping to find internships or work in this industry after graduation.
Marc Adam Eisdorfer Award
The Marc Adam Eisdorfer Award was established in 1998 by Sandra Eisdorfer in memory of her son, Marc Adam Eisdorfer, a graduate of the class of 1984. It recognizes the senior judged most outstanding in academic achievement in Linguistics. This year, seniors Kristen Lavery, pictured here with Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, and Danielle Dupreez were honored with this prestigious award at the Chancellor's Awards ceremony on April 16, 2019. Congratulations, Danielle and Kristen!
American Sign Language
For the first time, the Department of Linguistics is offering an introductory course in American Sign Language, ASL, through the Summer School. Our instructor this year is Judith Labath, a longtime instructor of ASL at UNC Greensboro. We hope to expand our offerings in ASL in the coming years.
For over thirty years, Judith Labath has considered herself professionally as a sign language interpreter, yet she has spent many of those years teaching American Sign Language and Interpreting classes at six universities between Illinois, Alabama, and North Carolina. She is delighted to be teaching summer school at the University of North Carolina.
As an instructor, Judith's aim is to share her enthusiasm and interest in American Sign Language as well as her passion and respect for the Deaf community with my students. To assist our students to reach their potential as sign language users, we believe it is essential to teach in the target language.
Professor J. Michael Terry's Summer
This summer, Professor J. Michael Terry spent the bulk of June as a summer resident at the National Humanities Center. Located in Research Triangle Park in Durham NC, the core of the Center’s mission is to provide a space to stimulate intellectual community and the productive exchange of ideas within the humanities. As one of the of the 36 scholars from eighteen institutions awarded summer residency fellowships, he used his time there work on his current project concerning the role of dialectal difference in educational achievement.
After leaving the Center, Professor Terry headed to UC Davis to teach Introduction to Semantics at the Linguistic Society of American Summer Institute. Quoting from the Institute’s webpage "Since 1928, the Linguistic Institutes have not only been the premier gatherings of their kind, attracting top professionals and students from around the world and throughout the subfields. They are also defining moments for individual scholars, host institutions, and the field itself, fondly remembered decades later by the participants."