LINGUIST List 4.357

Tue 11 May 1993

Qs: Language Disorders in Linguistics?

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  1. H.Stephen Straight, LANGUAGE DISORDERS in Linguistics?

Message 1: LANGUAGE DISORDERS in Linguistics?

Date: Sat, 8 May 93 11:05:27 EDLANGUAGE DISORDERS in Linguistics?
Subject: LANGUAGE DISORDERS in Linguistics?

A recent item in the LINGUIST List (Vol-4-312) stated (in part) that:

> The Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics [at York
> University, North York, Ontario, Canada] invites
> applications for a[n] appointment
> at the rank of Assistant Professor or Lecturer in Linguistics
> (rank dependent on qualifications) ... Qualifications: Ph.D. or ABD
> with an early projected thesis
> completion date; strong research record; publications; and
> demonstrable teaching ability. We are seeking a versatile
> candidate with teaching expertise in most of the following areas:
> discourse analysis, language disorders, phonology, second language
> acquisition, syntax. The successful candidate will be sympathetic
> toward a broad range of theoretical interests and approaches to
> Linguistics.

As director of an undergraduate linguistics program that has historically
attracted a large number of students with an interest in speech/language
pathology, I was struck by the inclusion of "language disorders" among
the areas of desired expertise for what is otherwise (except perhaps for
the "second language acquisition" item) a hard-core academic linguistics
opening. If the terms "neurolinguistics" or "language and the brain"
were substituted for "language disorders", the job description would be
unproblematic, but as it is this item implies (for me) a clinical
orientation that is incompatible with the rest of the description.

At Binghamton University we have addressed the needs of our "pre-speech
pathology" students (Binghamton has no program in speech pathology) by
hiring a local clinical practitioner to teach a course on "Causes and
Symptoms of Speech and Language Disorders" and facilitated the efforts of
students who complete this course to obtain 30 hours of clinical
observation (as a transcripted but zero-credit course).

But beyond this minimal accommodation we have felt that our training
(though it includes acoustic, auditory, and physiological phonetics and
neurolinguistics) was not appropriate to the needs of students interested
in "language disorders". Furthermore, we have considered it unethical
not to warn such students that without a baccalaureate in speech
pathology proper (or a hefty number of undergraduate courses in this
field taken at other institutions during the summer) they are unlikely to
be admittable into graduate speech-pathology programs. We have lost many
prospective linguistics majors to other institutions as a result.

Of course, the York University job ad may have an explanation that would
sort out all of the above relative to the specific campus context of
York's Department of Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, and I'd be
happy to hear it. But my reaction to this ad would still need to be
dealt with more generally.

I have two questions for Linguist-Listees:

1. Do others of you have the same reaction to the York job description?
If not, is it because you see clinical ("speech pathology") issues within
the domain of linguistics, or because you interpret the phrase "language
disorders" in some non-clinical way?

2. Do others of you have "pre-speech pathology" students? If so, how do
you deal with their needs?

Please respond directly to me. If I get more than a half dozen
responses, I'll summarize to the list.

H. Stephen Straight
Anthropology and Linguistics, Binghamton University (SUNY)
 E-mail: <sstraighbingvaxa.bitnet>
 Voice: 607-777-2824; Fax: 607-777-2477
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