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Linguists from around the world attend LASSO conference at UTPA
Posted: 10/17/2003
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Linguists from around the world gathered at The University of Texas-Pan American for the 32nd annual meeting of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest (LASSO).

Dr. Joshua Fishman of Yeshiva University spoke to participants at the LASSO conference Friday, Oct. 17.

The three-day conference titled "Crossing Linguistic Borders" focused on various topics, which included phonology, heritage languages and writing processes.

"The purpose of the linguistics association is to get linguists to come together and keep them updated with information about this field," said Dr. Pamela Anderson-Mejías, UTPA professor and event coordinator.

Anderson-Mejías said hosting this conference was significant for the University because of the international participation.

"As we grow to become a level-two research institution, we will want to bring more of these academic conferences to the University," she said. "This is the perfect University to study language in the whole world."

Participants heard from speakers like Dr. Joshua A. Fishman, professor emeritus from Yeshiva University and general editor of the International Journal of Sociology of Language. Following the theme title of the conference, Fishman explained about linguistic borders and their affect on culture.

"Borders are kind of a political concept, but I am going to explore the deeper, hidden significance of crossing borders through linguistics," Fishman said. "Language should not only be learned for professional reasons, but for cultural reasons as well."

Fishman spoke about three types of language settings people find themselves in when crossing borders: 1) a person only knows one language; 2) when speaking to another, one person knows two languages, the other only knows one language; and 3) both know each others language.

He also explained how addressing barriers could enhance communication.

"Many times a person themselves can be a linguistic barrier," he said. "It does not have to be an inter-territorial understanding, but an inter-personal understanding."

The conference also included presentations from Jan Jonz, North Texas State University; Amy Ruzycki-Shinabarger, Arizona State University; José G. Moreno de Alba, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Dr. Gilbert Cardenas, director of the Office of International Studies at UTPA; and Dr. Steven Schneider, chair of the UTPA English Department.

LASSO is a regional linguistics association in the United States, which helps in the advancement of the scientific study of language, particularly in geographical regions covering the states of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

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