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UMD Launches Language Center

By David Kohn

Welkom, BienvenueHuānyíng guānglín and Dobro požalovat: The university has opened a research center that will create the largest group of language scientists in North America to examine a range of questions including: how to improve early identification of language disorders in babies; how to create better language recognition systems; and why adults learn languages less efficiently compared with children.

Language CenterThe Maryland Language Science Center brings together more than 200 researchers from 17 departments and centers, as well as six colleges. This group will include computer scientists, linguists, neuroscientists, education researchers, psychologists and other specialists who will collaborate to solve such global language problems.

“Our goal is to put together all of the different pieces of language science in a way that no one else has ever done before,” says center Director Colin Phillips.

For instance, the Center for Advanced Study of Language has worked for years to improve how adults can quickly learn new languages. Working with the center’s researchers the project will now also focus on language learning among children.

Translation Program Takes Off

This fall, the Department of Communication inaugurated only the second program of its kind in the nation to train graduate students in translation and interpreting. With significant financial support from Jack Cassell, then-CEO of Visual Aids Electronics, the Graduate Studies in Interpreting and Translation program seeks to help meet the demand for linguists at the United Nations, U.S. Department of State and European Union and in diplomatic, legal, health care and community careers.

Director David Sawyer expects enrollment to jump from 24 last fall to 60 later this year. “This is a high-growth profession,” he says.

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