Scholars Gather for MU’s African Linguistics Workshop
On June 22 and 23, the University of Missouri hosted its first African Linguistics Workshop. The workshop, organized by MU linguistics expert Vicki Carstens, professor and chair of the interdepartmental linguistics program, was planned to coincide with the visit of Xhosa language scholar Loyiso Mletshe, professor at the University of Western Cape in South Africa.
Support from MU’s Global Scholars Program and UM’s South Africa Education Program has funded the collaboration between Carstens and Mletshe to analyze aspects of the linguistic structure of the Xhosa language. In 2011 Carstens was accepted for MU’s Global Scholars trip to Cape Town, South Africa, where she first met Mletshe.
The conference presentations focused on the unique syntax and phonology of several African languages.
“The workshop turned out to be a very stimulating and at the same time a fun event,” says Cartens. “My concept was to host something big enough to be lively but small enough to foster and strengthen collegial ties and scholarly exchange.”
The workshop’s presenters and attendees included Zulu language expert Claire Halpert; Michael Diercks and Mary Paster, professors at Pomona College; David Odden, professor at The Ohio State University; Patricia Schneider-Zioga, professor at California State University, Fullerton; Robert Botne, professor at Indiana State University; scholars from MU, University of Minnesota, and University of Kansas; and students from the Missouri Scholars Academy.
Carstens is planning another workshop for summer 2013 that will be held at the University of Michigan, where she will teach at the Linguistic Society of America's summer institute.
The teaching of African languages in educational institutions in the United States began with the enactment of the National Defense Education Act of 1958. According to scholars, researching and studying less commonly taught languages remains vital to America’s capacity to handle challenges of the 21st century.
For more information on MU’s African Linguistics Workshop, contact Vicki Carstens at email@example.com.