Foreword: Special issue on teaching history of linguistics in the 21st century

This special issue of Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America (PLSA) contains papers presented during an organized session on teaching history of linguistics in the 21st century at the 2024 LSA Annual Meeting. The session was organized as a session of the North American Association for the History of Language Sciences (NAAHoLS) with the aim of surveying current approaches to teaching history of linguistics and the provision of resources and insights for those who wish to do so themselves.

Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America

History of linguistics as a path to dissertation progress and contextualization of research

In our doctoral program (one which largely trains students in sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and L2 acquisition, rather than phonological, syntactic, and semantic theory), history of linguistics leads students to a deeper understanding of linguistics than is possible without it. Through this course, our students gain, in one semester rather than several, a broad perspective on the evolution of linguistic theories and methodologies. The course also serves as an opportunity for students to delve into the history of their own subfield and for them to frame the literature review portion of their own dissertation. The outcome of having this course is that our graduates have a broader perspe..

Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America

Graphs and networks in teaching the history of linguistics

Teaching the history of linguistics often involves talking about a large number of people – linguists and scholars in related fields – who are only hazily recognized by students, and often the teacher is no better off. A set of graphical networks can help enormously in the task of orienting oneself and keeping track of who is exactly who. Note: A video of the session in which this was presented and the associated slide deck are available in the foreword to this issue.

Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America

Presentist, trajectorial and heliocentric approaches to teaching the history of linguistics

This paper considers options for positioning the present in relation to the past in teaching the history of linguistics. It proposes three approaches as having been demonstrably practiced (presentist, trajectorial and heliocentric), plus a fourth (antiquarian) that is less likely to be publicized. They are exemplified and explored through a look at how the history of linguistics has been taught within the history of linguistics, in particular by William Dwight Whitney (a presentist), Ferdinand de Saussure (a trajectorialist) and Noam Chomsky (a heliocentrist). Key questions that arise include: What strategies and tactics can be inferred from their treatment of their predecessors? And to what..

Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America

Goals for teaching the history of linguistics

A history of linguistics course is as an opportunity to revisit some important linguistic concepts students have learned. Students are usually exposed to the larger goals of linguistic theory, but it is not the primary focus in syntax and phonology courses, for example. By examining the historical development of these concepts, e.g., phonemes, transformations, universal grammar, linguistic relativity etc., a history of linguistics course can be used to explore the nature of linguistics and the connections between linguistics and other disciplines. Note: A video of the session in which this was presented and the associated slide deck are available in the foreword to this issue.

Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America

Goals in teaching the history of linguistics

While once a required part of programs in Linguistics, courses in the history of the field have largely fallen into desuetude. When such courses are offered, they tend to attempt to cover thousands of years of history or a vast range of diverse related fields in a single term. There is perhaps a place for such courses, but I argue here that a rather more limited and focused offering has a particularly important role to play in the education of future linguistic theorists. Note: A video of the session in which this was presented and the associated slide deck are available in the foreword to this issue.

Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America

Who do we have to convince of the purpose and utility of history of linguistics courses in the curriculum?

This short commentary proposes that there is a need for convincing our colleagues in linguistics departments to include history of linguistics classes in our programmes. Once they are there, it is suggested that we also consider tailoring these classes to modern populations of students. Note: A video of the session in which this was presented and the associated slide deck are available in the foreword to this issue.

Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America

Representation of the history of linguistics in American college textbooks, 1950–2020

Many students of linguistics get their first classroom exposure to the field in courses with titles like Introduction to Linguistics or Survey of Linguistics. Such courses commonly employ textbooks that communicate the scope and methods of the discipline, and tacitly set students’ standards for what the discipline values. This article examines textbooks that have been employed from the 1950s to the early 21st century in U.S. college courses that introduce students to linguistics. The goal is to bring to light how the how the presence—or absence—of historical material shapes students’ assumptions about the value of the history of linguistics. Note: A video of the session in which this..

Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America

Is Low-Arousal Laughter a Reliable Cue for Irony?Individual Differences in Integrating Speech and Laughter Meanings

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