On Feb. 3, teachers and students were in attendance to hear Douglas Biber, a professor in the Applied Linguistics Program at Northern Arizona University, give a presentation on linguistics. This presentation is the first of the Language Matters speaking series here at Weber State University.

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Doug Biber, a nationally renowned lingustic, talks to Weber State students and faculty about demonstrative pronouns at his lecture on Feb 3. (Abby Van Ess / The Signpost)


Specific branches of linguistics include sociolinguistics, dialectology, psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, etc… Biber discussed how language is affected by social factors such as class, gender, region and occupation..

Linguistic deals directly with how we communicate. If we better understand how it works, we can more effectively persuade our audiences in both written and spoken words.

“Biber presented practical information that can, and should, shape how language is thought and how we understand the actual conventions of academic writing,” Claire Hughes, Writing Center Coordinator, said.

Hughes goes on to say how dramatic it is how much of the actual conventions differ from what most academics perceive them to be.

“A very informative presentation that covered a great deal of information and it had lots to offer for novice and advanced linguistics.” Ben Bigelow, WSU student, said

In his presentation, Biber goes over many different variations of why we say some words differently and why those words have certain meanings. Linguists study all of the different sounds, consonants, nouns, verbs, adverbs, etc… Biber also had the audience join in from time to time to get their opinions on why a certain phrase should or shouldn’t be and why they chose their answer.

“I found it interesting that when asked what the most used verbs were that an ESL teacher got it right,” Shawn Atkinson, a WSU student, said. “He understood that students who used English as a second language use those simple verbs in their beginning writing which is just the most common thing that native writers do and use.”

Even though his data didn’t all just come from recently, it is still important to acknowledge the fact that we have the technology available to do such things as linguistics and for linguistics to be accessed by anyone.

Biber received his doctorate in linguistics from the University of Southern California and was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Uppsala in 2000.

While Biber has his doctorate in linguistics there are many degrees in the Bachelor of Arts programs that deal with, and include, linguistics available to students. Those tend to be coupled with other majors, and/or minors, such as teaching English in a foreign country, multilingual skills and working as a translator or a concentration of courses in computer science. A student with a bachelor’s in linguistics coupled with computer science can obtain a position in a major computer company such as Macintosh, IBM or Microsoft creating computers that can comprehend and produce human languages.

Here at Weber State University students can have a linguistics minor to compliment a major. Not only can English students take these courses but also computer -science students as well.

For more information on linguists minors go tohttp://www.weber.edu/linguisticsminor/

For more information on Professor Douglas Biber go to http://dougbiber.weebly.com/ and https://nau.edu/cal/english/directory/douglas-biber/


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