Coordinator: Yumiko Ohara, Ph.D.


Associate Professors:

The Linguistics Program was incorporated into KHʻUOK in 2008 to provide assistance with the work of language revitalization at the local, national, and international levels. This program is unique within the United States in being situated within a college administered through an Indigenous language. It plays a prominent role in undergraduate and graduate education, including the only Ph.D. in the world focusing specifically on language and culture revitalization.

UH Hilo is one of only a few universities in the United States to offer a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics. Students learn about linguistics in a unique educational environment that is greatly influenced by the cultures and languages of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Asia. The Linguistics Program features a broad range of courses in both theoretical and applied linguistics, including courses related to language learning and teaching. The program also provides interested students with specialized courses in Hawaiian and Japanese linguistics, as well as in the linguistics of indigenous languages in different parts of the world.

Linguistics is the scientific study of language, examining it both as an abstract system and in its psychological and sociocultural contexts. Linguistics focuses on how the human mind structures, processes, and acquires language and on how language is an integral part of the cultural patterns of human interaction. With the central role played by language in the social world, linguistics is situated at the intellectual intersection of the humanities and the sciences, including the social, biological, and behavioral sciences. Accordingly, students receive broad training that cuts across and breaks down traditional boundaries between disciplines.

Linguistics Program Learner Outcomes

  1. Employ one language fluently and at least one additional language competently in a variety of spoken and written contexts.
  2. Analyze sets of data from a diverse set of languages in terms of linguistic structure, including phonological, morphological, syntactic, and pragmatic features of those languages.
  3. Participate in linguistic field research focusing on languages relevant in the Hawaiʻi Pan Pacific such as Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, English, and Hawaiʻi Creole.
  4. Explain the relationship among language, culture, and society and critically evaluate how language plays a central role in social and political issues such as gender and racial discrimination, immigration attitudes and laws, educational policies, and language revitalization movements.
  5. Locate and utilize reliable scholarly information in academic journals and books as a part of engaging in academic linguistic research and write a cohesive research paper of approximately four thousands words on a pertinent linguistic topic that is organized succinctly with at least an introduction, body, and conclusion and that includes foot/endnotes and citations.
  6. Employ audiovisual materials and appropriate technology such as PowerPoint as part of a succinctly organized fifteen-minute presentation of linguistic research findings to an audience.