Linguistics celebrates its 50th anniversary year with Foam Chomsky
The Linguistics Department's 50th anniversary party at Jackie O’s Brewpub on Wednesday, April 27, not only marks the culmination of a year of anniversary activities, it also launches a celebratory anniversary beer Foam Chomsky, a hazy IPA. And it's the first time in two years that faculty and students have met together to honor the graduating students.
One important way everyone came together this year was though the 50th Anniversary Colloquium Series. In both the fall and spring, faculty, former faculty and alumni presented their research either in-person or via TEAMS. College of Arts and Sciences funding helped the department bring back to Athens former alumnae and professors Dawn Bikowski, Ph.D., of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, and Romy Ghanem, Ph.D., from Northern Arizona University. The series was truly global with presentations from as far away as Hawaii, Canada, South Africa, and China.
"The colloquium series was a reminder of just how international the department has always been," said David Bell, Ph.D., chair of the Linguistics Department in the College of Arts and Sciences. "I was especially appreciative of alumna Dr. He Sun, who finished her presentation from Singapore at 2 a.m. local time."
Remembering how linguistics started at OHIO
A very special colloquium was “Remembering 50 Years of the Linguistics Department,” which brought former faculty and staff, alumni, and current students together, some on campus and others remotely.
"Emeriti professors Dr. Jim Coady, who started in the department in 1981, and Dr. Beverly Flanigan, who arrived in 1980, were in Gordy to reminisce and give us a sense of the history of the department. Dr. Coady reminded us that the Linguistics Department was established by two professors from English, Dr. Bob Dakin and Dr. Gil Schneider," Bell said. Dakin did his doctorate work at the University of Michigan, widely recognized as the cradle of applied linguistics in this country. Dakin not only founded the Linguistics Department but was also the first director of the Ohio Program of Intensive English (OPIE). Schneider was a cultural anthropologist who, along with his wife, ran a leprosarium in the upper part of the Cameroons for 15 years.
Schneider was also in the Peace Corps, and that has been a constant connection that the department has maintained over the years. Richard McGinn, Ph.D., who came to the department 1979, and his wife, Judy McGinn, were Peace Corps volunteers in the Philippines. Gerry Krzic, Ph.D., the present director of OPIE, was also a Peace Corps volunteer and an alumnus of the M.A. in Linguistics program, as was Bikowski, who founded the English Language Improvement Program (ELIP).
“One thing we did for years,” Coady pointed out, “was we would advertise for Peace Corps volunteers and say this is a good place to come to continue your interest and desire to practice in the field of teaching English, and that was a very strong component of our program. At the same time, we also recruited a lot of international students who wanted a degree to go back to their home countries and succeed, so it was approximately half and half.”
Coady considers the focus of the department as, essentially, applied linguistics. “Our emphasis is on preparing teachers of not just English, but Arabic and Swahili, Japanese and Chinese. I've always felt that was a very strong mission. We have a curriculum that takes linguistics as the foundation and then you build on that pedagogy and how to teach and how to learn. And that's very special combination. There aren't a lot of programs that succeed with that symbiotic relationship,” he continued.
“And our graduates have been very successful,” Coady added during the colloquium. “A third of our graduates have gone on to do Ph.D.s, and have distinguished careers in applied linguistics—like Bill Holschuh (’74), who is with us today. He started the Intensive English Program at OSU.”
Coady pointed out that “back in early 1970s, there wasn't a very international emphasis at Ohio University, to say the least. Over the years it was just linguistics with a few other departments that really made this a very internationally oriented university, and that's part of our history. It's part of who we are, as we've had many international students come, and they have a good time here. I once counted the countries that I've had students from here, and it came to 62 different countries. And that was just my teaching experience, and of course, linguistics has had students from many more countries now.”
Foam Chomsky: A Hazy IPA
Another alumnus of the linguistics master's program, and a former faculty member, is Art Oestrike, owner of Jackie O’s. He earned a B.A. in Russian and an M.A. in Linguistics from the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as a B.S. from the Patton College of Education. When Oestrike heard about the 50th anniversary, he offered to brew a special celebratory beer.
"We had a competition in the department to name the beer, and the winner was Foam Chomsky. The name was suggested by Steven Stamer, BA Music ’20. It is a pun, of course, on Noam Chomsky, probably the most famous American linguist. Jackie O’s will be selling the beer on tap, and you can also take it home with you in a 32-ounce crowler can," Bell said. "That meant that we needed a label for the can. Dr. John Sabraw in the School of Art + Design recommended graphic artist Callie Smith BFA ’21."
“Designing the label for the Foam Chomsky beer was so much fun,” Smith said, "and the fact that Chomsky himself has seen the design is hilarious and wonderful."
"We showed the design to Noam Chomsky, now 93 and still teaching at Arizona State University, to get his approval. He was fine with it. He had actually visited Ohio University twice," Bell added.
"Chomsky may have also enjoyed the other pun on the label. Beer lovers know that IPA stands for India Pale Ale, so named because back in the late 18th century it could survive the grueling six-month journey intact from Britain to India, where it was too hot to brew the beer. But for linguists, IPA stands for International Phonetic Alphabet, an example of which is the way that Chomsky’s name is written. And if you look closely at the phonetic script, you can see that Callie Smith has added a haziness for a third, visual pun. And Foam Chomsky won’t be the only beer named after a linguist we will be drinking at the party. There will also be McGinn’s, an Irish dry stout, brewed by Devil’s Kettle Brewing in honor of the late Dick McGinn and based off his award-winning homebrew recipe."
An In-Person Graduation Party
“At last— after three years of virtual meetings—we, like many other departments, will finally have an in-person celebration of our graduating students,” Bell said.
Linguistics will be honoring three award winning students:
- Noah McGeorge, outstanding linguistics undergraduate
- Seline Okeno, outstanding teaching assistant
- Nolan Schad, the James T and Miriam Coady Phonology Award.
“I love this bittersweet time of the year,” Bell said, “We are so happy for our students’ success and for the next steps they will take in their careers after OHIO, but sad to see them go. But as we have seen in this anniversary year, our alumni are never too far away and all too ready to visit with us in-person or virtually. And it is this that has helped us exist for these last 50 years and has certainly given the resilience to survive the turbulence of the last two years. I hope to see all our alumni, emeriti, former staff and faculty, and friends of the Linguistics Department on Wednesday, April 27, at the Linguistics 50th Anniversary, Jackie O’s Brewpub, 5:30 onwards, and we will toast to the next 50 years!”