English, linguistics faculty merge expertise

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    By Dianna Douglas

    Finding editing, usage, semantics and grammar classes takes some searching in the recently published Fall 2002 catalogue.

    The English department, by far the largest department at BYU, recently divided and 12 English faculty moved to the linguistics department.

    All classes that deal with English language have moved from the English heading to the new English Language heading, even though none of the classes have changed.

    “The change was necessary because the English department is so large. It”s larger than some colleges on campus,” said Mel Thorne, an English professor who made the move to the linguistics department.

    The English department had 80 faculty members and over 1,300 students in the major before the split.

    “A department that size has such an enormous administrative burden,” Thorne said.

    Thorne teaches editing classes, which are more related to language studies than to literature and theory, and are therefore now listed under English Language in the new catalogue.

    Bill Eggington, a professor of sociolinguistics and the main facilitator in the transfer of faculty from English to linguistics, said he is very happy with the change, because it can serve the needs of students better both during their time at BYU and after graduation.

    “Approximately 90 percent of the world”s new information is stored and retrieved in English. For the first time in the history of humankind we have one international language, and we need an area of focus and expertise in language, not just in the literature of that language,” Eggington said.

    The Wall Street Journal recently reported that English language specialists are finding a market hungry for experts in usage, vocabulary and lexicography, and can demand big salaries from businesses that need to communicate with the public.

    Lynn Henrichsen, linguistics chair, said his department double with the addition of the English department faculty. “I feel like this is a merger – a joining of forces to strengthen the program.”

    The linguistics department has grown steadily over the past decade, and the recent additions will benefit students by giving them better faculty resources for teaching and for research, Henrichsen said.

    The split has left some students in the dark, however.

    Joyce Baggerly, English department secretary, said she has received a handful of phone calls from students who can”t find classes required for their major in the catalogue.

    Baggerly said the classes are simply under different headings, but the course offerings have not changed.

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