Language and Society
The Language and Society concentration focuses on cultural aspects of language, how language is used in society, how languages vary within a society and across societies, and how languages change over time. Examples of issues addressed include the following: how languages represent gender, and gender-based variation in language use; how languages represent the cultures in which they function; the role of social status in the perception of language differences; social and public policy issues involving language; how English and other languages have changed from their origins to the present; how we reconstruct prehistoric languages; how dictionaries are created; the relationship between language and archeology; how pidgins and creole languages arise. The Language and Society courses address these and other topics. Potential employment is in dictionary work; language interpretation; courtroom analysis of language usage; working with censorship; brand name development. In terms of research, language reconstruction is an invaluable aid to physical archeology. The following are active research topics within this concentration at LSU: Variation studies of Cajun French and Cajun English Variation studies of Creole French and Creole English Language and history of the early Germanic laws Oral formulations in early medieval history and literature Discourse analysis with special emphasis on Mayan culture Spanish/English contact in the US
Language and Cognition
Researchers in language and cognition explore how language is acquired and processed by native and non-native speakers. They also study the nature of language impairments and the neurological basis of language knowledge and performance. The data for such studies include language samples from people, as well as data gathered in the lab regarding the accuracy and reaction times of participants’ responses to linguistic stimuli. Active research topics at LSU include: Age of L2 acquisition effects on language processing Theories of language representation, processing, and acquisition Exploration of the types of linguistic structures that are relatively easy or hard to learn or process Examining the types of learning conditions that aid first language acquisition Investigating the nature of childhood specific language impairment Researchers in language and cognition also explore how the determination of linguistic meaning intersects with broader cognitive processing. For example, they investigate how much of linguistic meaning is attributable to conventional semantic meaning, and how much depends on contextual inference accessing broader knowledge of the world and society. They also investigate how use of language to refer to an object or situation in the world depends on assumptions about the nature of that object or situation, as well as assumptions about other people’s knowledge of, and attention to, the object or situation referred to. Active research topics at LSU include: Studies of reference Lexical representation and access of adults with temporal lobe sensory aphasia Studies of slips-of-the-tongue The Language and Cognition courses discuss these and other topics, including issues of language structure and interpretation.
Applied Linguistics is concerned with the uses of language in various domains (classroom, workplace, court of law, medicine, politics, media) and in different academic areas (first and second language acquisition, literacy, bilingualism, speech language pathology, translation, language policy and planning, preparation of dictionaries, natural language processing by computers). The Language and Applied Linguistics courses address these topics. Faculty at LSU who participate in the Applied Linguistics concentration have expertise in two primary areas. The first is second language acquisition (SLA). This area of research examines the development of language knowledge and use by considering learning contexts, learner differences, and social, linguistic, and psychological factors of language acquisition and teaching. As part of this area of concentration, the Linguistics Program cooperates with the English Language and Orientation Program. Students from all over the world come to LSU to complete intensive 8-week courses through this program. Active research topics at LSU include: Linguistic competence across L2 proficiency levels Metalinguistic grammatical judgments in L2 Sociopragmatic competence and L2 learner characteristics Spanish/English bilingualism and language registers Language attitudes and language use in bilingual communities The second area of Applied Linguistics at LSU is in assessment and teaching methods for children and adults with language impairments. Many of the faculty who participate in this area of research are housed within the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. This department maintains the LSU Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic and five research suites that are dedicated to the study of language acquisition and breakdown. Active research topics at LSU include: Efficacy studies of childhood language intervention using single-subject and group designs Efficacy studies of general education and prevention services in child language development and disorders Validity of language assessment tools for children who speak Louisiana dialects of English