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Department of Linguistics pres.

Linguistics Colloquium: "Linguistics for the Common Good"

Robin Queen, Linguistics Professor and Chair, University of Michigan


Although institutions of higher education increasingly recognize the imperative of fostering diversity, equity, inclusion and access, language and linguistic diversity are rarely part of institutional efforts toward greater justice. Further, despite many different kinds of efforts, linguists have not been as successful as we might hope in advocating for the centrality of language within the imperative toward inclusion and justice. Yet, part of diversity is linguistic diversity; part of equity is linguistic equity; part of inclusion is linguistic inclusion; and part of access is linguistic access.

In this talk, I’ll explore some of the ways that linguists can have more success in our efforts to enhance linguistic justice through embracing and engaging with ongoing as well as emerging shifts in the discipline. By framing linguistic inclusion in the context of standardized language privilege, I present what we know about linguistic discrimination, pinpoint the linguistic stakes of efforts towards inclusion, highlight some flashpoints that occur in public discussions about language such as with pronouns and political correctness, and offer some concrete steps that we as linguists can take to effectively advocate for the importance of language at all levels of intervention linked to greater equity and justice.
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