COOL CLASSES: “Linguistic Diversity, Threats to Diversity, and Resistance”

COOL CLASSES: “Linguistic Diversity, Threats to Diversity, and Resistance”

Class name: “Linguistic Diversity, Threats to Diversity, and Resistance”

Taught by: Assistant Professor of Linguistics Brook Danielle Lillehaugen


Here’s what Lillehaugen has to say about her course:

The course considers issues of linguistic diversity, experiences of difference, and power structures as they relate to the perception and use of language, and struggles for justice in linguistic context. The content focuses on three thematic areas: linguistic diversity, threats to diversity, and resistance.

The course is structured around a large group project to document and communicate linguistic diversity across the Bi-Co, a type of diversity that is often misunderstood and invisible. Students read about linguistic rights in terms of human rights, case studies of linguistic resistance, theoretical work on language activism, and research methods used in linguistic anthropology and ethnography. And the class includes explorations of language-based discrimination in public and private contexts, including the courtroom, and a guest visit from a language activist about their motivation and experience.

Students meet in Stokes for Brook Lillehaugen’s “Linguistic Diversity, Threats to Diversity, and Resistance” class. Photo by Holden Blanco ’17

I created this class to address two needs I saw simultaneously. First, even educated individuals can be woefully ignorant about linguistic diversity. Haverford students will go on to be lawyers, doctors, business owners, employers, teachers; what they understand –or don’t understand—about linguistic diversity and language more will affect people’s lives. It is my hope that this class will help participants to be better citizens. Secondly, linguistic diversity on campus is something that is under-discussed and sometimes quite invisible. Do you know all the languages spoken by members of the Haverford community? What knowledge do we have on campus that we do not recognize? I hope the project that the students design through this course will be public-facing and they will share what we learn about the linguistic richness of Haverford with the pubic!

The main things I hope students take away are an understanding that all languages and dialects are linguistically valid and deserving of respect, and [an ability] to consider how power informs judgments about language and dialect differences made on so-called linguistic grounds.



See what other courses the Tri-Co Department of Linguistics is offering this semester.

Cool Classes is a recurring series on the Haverblog that highlights interesting, unusual, and unique courses that enrich the Haverford College experience. 

Photos by Holden Blanco ’17.

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