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Regular version of the site

New Master’s Programme in Theoretical Linguistics to Start at HSE

A new English-taught master’s programme ‘Linguistic Theory and Language Description’ starts in the new academic year. Ekaterina Rakhilina, Head of the School of Linguistics, told us about some details of the programme, project work and the potential for international cooperation.

Currently, HSE only offers master’s programme in computer linguistics, but this year we’ve been implementing a pilot project of a second, theoretical, profile as part of this master’s programme. The profile, as well as the upcoming master’s programme, is headed by Miсhael Daniel. The competition was rather high: HSE graduates in computer linguistics, theoretical linguistics and Russian studies, as well as very high-achieving prospective students from other universities all applied for the programme.

The new programme will be English-taught, mostly because HSE is becoming more actively involved in international education. International students are entering both undergraduate and master’s programmes, and, of course, it’s easier for them to study in English. But it is also useful for Russian students, and particularly for master’s students, to become part of the international academic community. The gap between the Russian-taught and English-taught programmes is not as big as it may seem; some undergraduate courses are already English-taught; almost everyone listens to some sort of English-taught courses on the internet; and most specialist books in linguistics are in English.

Project work

The main thing this programme inherited from the School’s existing programmes is a focus on projects. Undergraduate students already participate in many projects during their studies. They get used to teamwork, to participating in study and research groups together with lecturers, and in large-scale projects sponsored by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) or the Centre for Fundamental Studies. By the way, our School is now implementing three RFBR projects, and all of them involve students. Many courses culminate in a project, and there is a discipline called ‘Workshops’ during the third year of study, which is totally dedicated to project activities.

Project work during master’s studies is even more important. What is so special about master’s projects? The truth is that our School’s master’s projects are a close imitation of real-life ones. The programme in computer linguistics has been developing them for a long time, and before the New Year there was a big presentation of the near-completed projects, where people from the industry were invited. For the theoretical profile, the projects have just started, but they are also being conducted in a ‘real’ format. First, students prepare applications similar to applications for grants in research funding, and then these student applications are considered by external experts. The key thing is research skills, which are acquired by students this way. Research is carried out within a certain framework, and learning to work in this framework and meet deadlines is a very important aspect of their future career.

We closely cooperate with other universities and are very willing to build cooperation with other HSE campuses. In addition to that, we’ll have joint projects with international universities, which may even ‘commission’ some of the projects. There are two such projects within the computer linguistics programme today, one with the University of Tromsø, and the other one with Oxford.

There are many options for projects, but what we want to have in the end are serious publications. Our lecturers publish their papers and attend various conferences. And if we could teach our students to apply for such conferences, to read reviews, and to teach, this would be very useful. We’ve already had this experience; both master’s and undergraduate students have successfully participated in international conferences.

International ties

The existing programme involves internships, and the new one will certainly continue this. The University of Tromsø is purposefully looking for grants to invite our students. We are very hopeful of establishing cooperation with Oxford in this subject area. Soon, we will sign an agreement with Stockholm University; traditionally, we have very good relations with their Linguistics Department. We very much hope to continue cooperating with the University of Helsinki, which carries out very good research in typology and is one of the world’s best academic institutions in terms of Russian studies. We are also going to organize a School of Typology in April together with the University of Jerusalem: such events promote awareness about the new master’s programme in the international academic environment. Many international linguistics researchers already know the Higher School of Economics as a place where high-quality research in linguistics is carried out. But it would be even better if it were also better known among students of linguistics, and this is one of the reasons why we encourage our students to go to various conferences and schools.

In addition to that, we are planning to attract globally renowned scholars, as we have been doing in recent previous years. This year, Ian Maddieson, the world’s leading expert in phonology and instrumental analysis of ‘rare’ sounds, delivered a large course of lectures here.

See also:

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HSE University-Developed Linguatest System Launched in Nizhny Novgorod

Linguatest, Russia’s first foreign-language certification system, has been launched in the Nizhny Novgorod region. The system was developed by specialists from HSE University in cooperation with the National Accreditation Agency and the Prosveshchenie group of companies, who are providing certification and publishing support for the project. Nizhny Novgorod is the first city after Moscow to offer testing under the system.

'The Applied Linguistics Programme Allowed Me to Try Something I Was Interested in While Continuing What I Am Passionate About'

Austin Garrett-Sites, from the US, is a master's student of the Applied Linguistics and Text Analytics programme in Nizhny Novgorod. Students from around the world to come to Russia to get a European education in English with viable employment prospects. Austin spoke about his impressions after the first year of study and his favourite places in Nizhny Novgorod.

What’s It Like to Work as a Computer Linguist

The IT industry is rapidly developing and incorporating new professions. Zoya Mazunina and Arina Mosyagina, linguists with Seldon and graduates of the HSE University Fundamental and Applied Linguistics programme, met with university applicants to talk about the computer linguist profession, issues of automatic language processing, and how linguists use the knowledge they gain at HSE University.

Towards Finding Practical Solutions to Socially Significant Healthcare Problems

The Centre for Language and Brain in Nizhny Novgorod started operations in September 2020. Today, it is comprised of a team of linguists - teachers and students - who are researching the relations between speech and parts of the brain. The Director of the Centre, Natalya E. Gronskaya, spoke to the HSE Look about how the neuro-linguistic laboratory appeared in Nizhny Novgorod, as well as current tasks and prospects the Centre can offer the students and the region.

Predicting Grammatical Properties of Words Helps Us Read Faster

Psycholinguists from the HSE Centre for Language and Brain found that when reading, people are not only able to predict specific words, but also words’ grammatical properties, which helps them to read faster. Researchers have also discovered that predictability of words and grammatical features can be successfully modelled with the use of neural networks. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Weaving Languages Together: Why Megacities Need to Preserve Multilingualism

Moscow, like any modern big city, attracts migrants from different regions and countries. Some of them speak very little or no Russian. Their adaptation and successful integration depend in part on how fast they can learn Russian and in part on whether the city makes an effort to accommodate other languages. According to linguist Mira Bergelson, this latter factor is particularly important if the city is to benefit from immigration.

‘Reading’ with Aphasia Is Easier than ‘Running’

Neurolinguists from HSE University have confirmed experimentally that for people with aphasia, it is easier to retrieve verbs describing situations with several participants (such as ‘someone is doing something’), although such verbs give rise to more grammar difficulties. The results of the study have been published in Aphasiology.

‘We Have Not Yet Fully Understood How Languages ​​Work, and We Are Already Losing 90% of Their Diversity’

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Former HSE Exchange Student Returns as Post-Doc in Linguistics

Originally from Pavia, Italy, Chiara Naccarato developed an interest in Russian early on in her studies, completing her undergraduate and master’s degrees in Russian Language and Linguistics at the University of Milan. She recently joined HSE as a postdoctoral researcher in the Linguistic Convergence Laboratory after completing her PhD studies in Linguistic Sciences at the Universities of Pavia and Bergamo.