Language and Culture in the Pacific (LIN2108.01)

Leah Pappas

There are approximately 2,000 languages spoken on the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and they tell us a story of impressive migrations, millennia of contact, and island resilience. We will explore this story by discussing the two primary language groups in the Pacific: the Austronesian language family and the non-Austronesian languages of New Guinea. Tracing two major migrations—one that occurred over 50,000 years ago and one that occurred approximately 7,000 years ago—we’ll consider how geography, time, and contact resulted in the Pacific’s linguistic diversity. Students will learn how we can use linguistic data to understand historical events and explore the cultural facets that shaped the languages of today. As the semester progresses and we march towards the present, we’ll explore the challenges of more recent times, such as the impacts of colonialism, globalization, and climate change on Pacific languages. While we focus on the Pacific region, students will be encouraged to consider how concepts introduced in the course can be applicable to languages and linguistic study around the world.

Learning Outcomes:
- Understand the how historical forces of migration, contact, and cultural adaptation have shaped modern languages in the Pacific region and beyond

- Critically evaluate the ways in which language is used by individuals and groups to form cultural identities, navigate social structures, and adapt to new environments

- Thoughtfully articulate one’s own positionality in relation to language-based issues in the Pacific region and beyond.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 10:00AM - 11:50AM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: 2000 , All courses , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , Linguistics , Sociolinguistics