A graduate student presenting his research.
Linguists study ways that languages are developed, learned, and changed from place to place and person to person. In the process, they learn new insights into our behavior which have practical applications in law, medicine, finance, government, computers, the arts—the possibilities are as limitless as the boundaries of human communication.
Some of our research has global implications. For example: With English fast becoming the international language of business, “English as a second language” classes have taken on new importance. What are the best ways to teach non-native speakers the idiosyncrasies of a language that pronounces “tough,” “dough,” and “cough” differently?
And some of our research is as close as the tight-knit ethnic neighborhoods that surround our Pittsburgh campus. Many Pittsburghers speak a polyglot dialect known locally as “Pittsburghese.” Tracking its development has revealed important clues about the ways that human beings acquire and modify languages and words over time.