UCSC’s linguistics department answers old questions with new methods
What is a question? How do you ask one? How do you answer?
These are some of the many queries UC Santa Cruz’s linguistics department is trying to solve and they are using some innovative techniques to get at the answers.
“This is an exciting time in the field [of linguistics],” says Jim McCloskey, chair of the department. “The field is changing fast. The basic questions remain the same … but the methods are changing.”
Until recently, the focus in linguistics research was on informal methods, generally one-on-one talks with a native speaker, asking them questions about the language. Now the focus is shifting toward more large-scale, quantitative, and laboratory-based studies—methodologies more akin to those of the “hard” sciences. UCSC is unique in that it integrates both techniques.