*W. O’Grady, PhD (Chair)—syntax, language acquisition, Korean,
assessment of language strength
Linguists in Other Departments
*R. Bley-Vroman, PhD—English syntax, language acquisition
Retired Faculty—In Residence
B. W. Bender, PhD—general linguistics, morphology, Micronesian
Cooperating Graduate Faculty
J. D. Brown, PhD—language learning and teaching, language testing
Affiliate Graduate Faculty
K. Cook, PhD—cognitive and relational grammar; Polynesian languages,
M. Choo, PhD—Korean
Degrees Offered: Certificate in Linguistics, BA in interdisciplinary studies (linguistics), MA in linguistics, PhD in linguistics
The Academic Program
Linguistics (LING), also called linguistic science or the science of language, is the study of how language works—how it is acquired, how it is used, how it is represented in the brain, how it changes over time, and so on. Major subfields are phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, discourse analysis, pragmatics, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics (including developmental psycholinguistics), neurolinguistics, mathematical and computational linguistics, and ethnographic linguistics.
Linguistics is relevant to many endeavors, including cognitive science, language planning, language teaching, speech synthesis and recognition, treatment of language disorders, repair of communication breakdowns, and information technology. Our program presents unique opportunities for the study of Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) and Asian languages. It also has special strengths in language acquisition, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and language documentation and conservation.
Our program is recognized as being among the top twenty-five in the U.S.
All faculty in the Department participate in the advising of students majoring in Linguistics. Undergraduates majoring in Linguistics under the Interdisciplinary Studies program are advised initially by the undergraduate advisor. Graduate majors are advised by the chair of the graduate field of study. Students are later assigned to specific faculty members for advising according to their special interests.
Students may major in linguistics for the BA degree at UH Manoa through the Interdisciplinary Studies Program. In this program, students create for themselves a major equivalent with the guidance of a faculty advisor. The major equivalent may combine the study of linguistics with that of one or more foreign languages or with related disciplines, such as anthropology or psychology. Students majoring in linguistics in this way may include some or all of the MA core of courses in their BA programs and are thus able to do more advanced work in their later MA program.
The faculty represents a variety of theoretical viewpoints. The various faculty members are especially well qualified to direct research on languages of the Pacific and parts of Asia. Fields of special competence include descriptive and comparative linguistics, general linguistic theory, language contact and variation, ethnolinguistics, language development, experimental phonetics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and cognitive linguistics.
Students admitted to graduate programs in linguistics normally have a background in at least one foreign language. Some background in mathematics or one of the sciences may also be useful. Students entering without a course equivalent to LING 320 are required to take this course to make up for this deficiency in their preparation for graduate work.
The GRE General Test is required of all applicants. Both the MA and the PhD degrees are offered.
The MA program provides a basic introduction to the subject matter and skills of the discipline. The PhD program provides full professional training for careers in research and teaching. Employment opportunities for graduates of both programs today often require additional knowledge of one or more related disciplines. Students are therefore encouraged to broaden their training in linguistics by including work in other disciplines. Such programs, and those that include many of the specializations listed above, will involve the inclusion of faculty members from other fields of study on students’ program committees. Students should make known their interests to the graduate chair as early as possible so that appropriate advisors can be chosen to direct students to courses, and any key prerequisite courses, that will help them explore their interests further. It is also possible for students to include concentrations in linguistics in their programs for the MA degree in Asian studies or Pacific Islands studies.
The guidelines listed below are offered to guide students in their preparation for the various examinations, although individual study must be done in areas not covered by course offerings. Courses bearing the 700-level numbers are seminars, and various sections of these seminars are typically offered in a given semester, depending on the interests of the resident faculty and students. Each semester there are normally a number of seminars dealing with geographical areas, particular language families, the structures of individual languages, and particular theoretical problems. A major portion of the work done beyond the MA level is in seminars and in directed research.
The department offers MA Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C programs. In addition to the university-wide residence requirements of a minimum of two semesters of full-time work, all three programs require that students demonstrate competence in one language other than their native language.
Plan A requires a thesis (9 credit hours) and a minimum of 21 credit hours of course work. A final oral examination covering the thesis and related areas is also required.
Plan B requires a minimum of 30 credit hours and a final seminar presentation near the end of course work. The topic and format of the presentation must be approved in advance by the graduate chair. (More information on Plan B below.)
Plan C requires two semesters of full-time course work in addition to a final examination with both written and oral portions. Plan C is open to select students who have had some previous work in linguistics and who show both high potential for scholarly development and the motivation and discipline necessary for an independent course of study. A committee of faculty is appointed for each prospective student for Plan C. The committee administers a general examination during the student’s first semester of study to determine the appropriateness of Plan C, advises the student in developing a program of study, and administers the oral portion of the final examination.
Plan A (Thesis):
All students in Plan A (Thesis) must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours. Course work must include a minimum of
Students who are not exempted from any of the Core courses may need to earn more than 30 credit hours to complete the requirements.
Plan B students must complete 30 credit hours of course work for a grade (not CR/NCR or Audit), of which 18 hours must be at the 600 level or above, including 3 hours of a 700 level seminar. Students may choose between three “streams”: Linguistic Analysis, Language and Cognition, and Language Documentation and Conservation. For all streams there is a Core List from which different numbers of courses are to be selected:
For details for Plan B, see www.ling.hawaii.edu/graduate-program-overview.
All students in the PhD program are required to complete a minimum of 33 credit hours of course and seminar work at UH (exclusive of LING 800) beyond those counted towards the MA degree. Courses in phonology (LING 621), grammar (LING 622), and a Methods course are required of all PhD students. Methods courses include LING 630: Field Methods; LING 632: Laboratory Research; LING 750F: Phonology and Phonetics; and LING 750Q: Language Acquisition. Students interested in experimental research are strongly advised to take one or more courses in statistical analysis as well (e.g., EDEP 429, ESL 490, or 671.)
PhD students must present two professionally written papers, pass a comprehensive examination, and pass a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation.
Paper requirement: Students must have two clearly and professionally written papers. The first must be satisfied through acceptance of a written version of the paper, either in a peer-reviewed journal or volume or in the University of Hawai‘i Working Papers in Linguistics (UHWPL). The second need not be published, but must, nonetheless, be of publishable quality. Satisfying each paper requirement is a two-step process: a) defense of the analysis being presented, and b) acceptance of a satisfactorily written and formatted paper for publication. The student forms a committee of three members. The first member, who serves as chair of the committee, is selected by the student; the other two members are selected by the graduate chair. Analysis defense: Students give a conference-style 20 minute presentation with a comprehensive handout; this defense is not open to the public unless the student chooses to make it so. The committee must arrive at a unanimous decision. Students who fail to successfully defend their analysis must revise it and have a second defense by the end of the following semester. The defense requirement will be waived for papers published in competitive peer-reviewed outlets. If a student fails to successfully defend his/her analysis for the second time, the Graduate Chair will poll the faculty to determine whether the student should continue in the program.
Peer-reviewed publication: One paper must be published in a journal or volume where the papers themselves are subject to peer-review; this excludes proceedings from conferences where only abstracts–and not the entire papers–are reviewed. The review process must be critical and competitive, in that a substantial number of submitted papers are not accepted for publication, and reviewers provide critical comments on the paper to authors. It is the responsibility of students to provide evidence to their committee of a critical and competitive review process by submitting information about the process and a copy of the referee reports for the manuscript. No more than two drafts may be submitted to the committee chair before submission to the journal or volume. If the paper has already been published in an approved journal or volume, the student may satisfy the first working paper requirement by simply having a successful analysis defense.
UHWPL: Each paper must not exceed 5,000 words, including notes and references. No more than two drafts should be submitted to the committee chair before submission to the other committee members. Students must obtain their committee’s approval before submitting the final draft to UHWPL.
It is in the best interests of students to complete both papers no later than the end of their sixth semester in the program, so that they can start work on their dissertation during their fourth year. Students are encouraged to form their PhD program committees in consultation with the graduate chair as soon as possible after their two papers have been accepted.
All PhD candidates must demonstrate competence in one language other than their native one. Students may demonstrate their language knowledge either by taking a reading/translation test involving a linguistics-related passage or by having satisfactorily taken courses in the language through the 202 level. Foreign students may use English if it is not their native tongue; certification by the English Language Institute that they are exempt from ELI courses suffices to establish their competence in English.
Students are admitted to candidacy after certifying their language competence and performing successfully on the comprehensive examination, which is both written and oral. Students are expected to demonstrate expertise in three areas of specialization approved by their committee. Possible areas include the following: Austrosiatic linguistics, Austronesian linguistics, Chinese linguistics, cognitive science, computational linguistics, discourse analysis, English linguistics, Japanese linguistics, Korean linguistics, language acquisition, language documentation and conservation, language learning and language teaching, lexicography, neurolinguistics, phonetics, phonology, pidgin and creole studies, psycholinguistics, semantics, sociolinguistics, syntax, typology, and universals. Related disciplines may also be designated as areas of specialization. These particulars are determined when the student’s doctoral committee is formed.
Each student must then develop a written proposal and prospectus outlining his or her intended dissertation research project. The student then meets with his or her committee to defend the proposal and prospectus orally and to discuss various issues that it raises. In addition to traditional dissertation topics of a theoretical, descriptive, historical, or experimental nature, the faculty is open to topics in applied linguistics when it can be demonstrated that the project will add to the knowledge of language, broadly conceived. Research may include studies of language use in education, law, or other institutions of society; social and cultural influences on language acquisition and use; bilingualism, multilingualism, foreign accent, and translation, the interrelations of language and literacy, etc. Although many such topics can also be treated within disciplines such as anthropology, psychology, literature, and pedagogy, when presented for the PhD in linguistics they are expected to have a linguistic perspective and to make a distinctive linguistic contribution. The decision as to whether such expectations are met is made by the student’s dissertation committee. Committees formed for applied topics will include members drawn from the faculties of closely related and cooperating fields of study such as Asian languages and literatures, English, Languages and Literatures of Europe and the Americas, and Second Language Studies. Students wishing to explore such areas are encouraged to include relevant courses beyond those required for the MA as electives early in their program.
Please note: This Catalog was prepared to provide information and does not constitute a contract. The University reserves the right to change or delete, supplement or otherwise amend at any time and without prior notice the information, requirements and policies contained in this Catalog.
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