It’s with great excitement that I announce the formation of the Department of Linguistics. The study of linguistics has been part of CAS in various forms since the early 1980s, with the launch of the linguistics minor in 1986, followed by the major in 1991. BU Linguistics also recently launched new MA and Ph.D. programs.

The Department of Linguistics is a leader in the field, with faculty dedicated to theoretically based, empirically oriented linguistic research and teachings. Alumni work at software companies, science publishing houses, hospitals, and other universities, and are recipients of both university and national awards. Earlier this month, the department held the 43rd Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, the premier international conference focusing on language acquisition research, bringing innovative researchers and thinkers to campus.

Linguistics, although a discipline in its own right, lends itself to a variety of interdisciplinary connections. We now have joint majors combining linguistics with philosophy; Spanish; Japanese; Italian; French; and speech, language & hearing sciences. The department plans to develop additional joint majors. Linguistics faculty members have received external funding for a variety of collaborative and interdisciplinary projects, focusing on areas such as the sociolinguistic study of the varieties of Spanish spoken in Boston; computer-based recognition, from video, of American Sign Language (in collaboration with computer scientists); language acquisition; indigenous languages; and tone and intonation. Faculty members have also received external funding for other projects related to theoretical morphology, syntax, and semantics.

Finally, I would note that the Department of Linguistics promises to be an important partner in BU’s strategy in the computational and data sciences. Indeed, natural language understanding and synthesis by computer, and algorithms that can learn from vast amounts of knowledge available in natural language form, are crucial to the advancement of artificial intelligence systems. The Department of Linguistics is poised to provide foundational expertise for students and faculty who seek to leverage linguistics principles in advancing the state of the art in computational linguistics, natural language processing, and machine learning.

Please join me in congratulating the entire department on this well-deserved news.

Stan Sclaroff
Interim Dean of Arts & Sciences
Boston University