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LSA Winter Theme Semester 2011

Language is a defining characteristic of humans that plays a central role in virtually all aspects of human activity, interaction, knowledge, and thought. Because language is at the same time a socio- cultural phenomenon and a formal system grounded in human cognition and biology, its study rests at the intellectual intersection of the humanities and the social, biological, and behavioral sciences. As such, language study is an important component of a liberal education.

In this theme semester, language will be viewed as a window on the human mind, brain, and society. It will be the nexus for investigating issues in philosophy of mind, cognition and cognitive neuroscience, linguistic theory, developmental and social psychology, social-cultural anthropology, ethnic and gender studies, evolutionary biology, information theory, and more. Course offerings, invited speakers, and other theme-centered events will encourage LSA students to consider such enduring questions as:

  • What does it mean to “know” a language?
  • How do children acquire language?
  • How do adults learn a second language?
  • Why do language-learning adults often speak with a foreign accent?
  • How is language physically embodied? Cognitively processed? Socially embedded?
  • What is the relation between language and culture?
  • How can we account for the similarities and differences in human languages?
  • How do ideas about language inform the philosophy of mind?
  • How do verbal art and literacy enrich human lives?
  • How can insights about language help in information retrieval?
  • How do linguistic perceptions influence the way we recognize social differences?
  • How is language used as a political tool for social cohesion or oppression?
  • What is the role of language ideologies in human society?
  • How are new languages created?
  • Why are so many languages currently on the verge of extinction?

Click here to learn more about past and future LSA Theme Semesters.

Theme Semester Promotional Material
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Event Video