Language is a fundamental part of human existence.
Our capacity for human language is a trait we share with God that sets us apart from the rest of Creation.
- In Genesis 1, God brings all things into being through spoken word.
- Later, in Chapter 2, Adam follows in the footsteps of God by using the creative power of words to give names to “all the livestock, the birds of the air, and all the beasts of the field”.
- Looking ahead to the New Testament, the Gospel of John begins by explaining the identity of Christ through an appeal to the Greek logos, or “word”.
Language is also intertwined with our identity. A tragic fact for the Ephraimites in Judges 12:5-6:
- “The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim, and whenever a survivor of Ephraim said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead asked him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he replied, “No,” they said, “All right, say ‘Shibboleth.’” He said, “Sibboleth,” because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed at that time.” (NIV)
In the Department of Modern Language Studies, we recognize that studying language is unlike most other academic disciplines in that language is an inseparable part of who we are as bearer’s of God’s image.
Whether you are learning how to speak another language, teach a language you already know, or are investigating how languages work, our department seeks to make it a complete, human experience.