What is Linguistics at UNM?



“Language is the most massive and inclusive art we know, a mountainous and anonymous work of unconscious generations.”

― Edward Sapir, Language: an Introduction to the Study of Speech

Department of Linguistics

Here at the UNM Linguistics Department, linguistics is more than just the study of the structure of language. We seek to investigate language as an ever-changing, ever-emerging system of communication. Although different members of the department explore language from a variety of different angles, we all view it broadly as the product of time and experience. Studying language helps us understand our own cognition and what it means to be human.

Our Department’s Mission Statement

The UNM Department of Linguistics is the only degree-granting linguistics program in one of the most multilingual and multicultural states in the U.S. As such, it bears particular responsibilities both to the field of linguistics and to the residents of the region it serves. The department thus has two concerns: (1) teaching and research on language structure and use, and (2) service to society on language-related issues. The department's approach to linguistic theory takes a primarily cognitive-functional perspective that focuses on language structure as interacting with language use. This orientation emphasizes the study of language typology, change, discourse, interaction, variation, processing, and acquisition. The department is particularly concerned with the study of regional languages (especially Native American languages and Spanish) and signed languages (American Sign Language, in particular). This theoretical approach provides the foundation for effectively addressing our commitment to the application of linguistics to social concerns, including minority language maintenance and empowerment of minority communities. Thus, the department not only studies and teaches about the structure and use of language, but also encourages faculty and student involvement as advocates and participants in outreach to the linguistic communities in which we carry out research.


HDLS 11th Biennial Conference: 3 - 5 November 2016 (http://linggraduate.unm.edu/conference.html)

Signed Language Interpreting Program receives 10-year accreditation.

 If you are interested in applying to our PhD program, please read about our Greenberg Fellowship award.