Profile: Julia Swan

By Aaminah Baloch

San José State University welcomes Professor Julia Swan to the Department of Linguistics and Language Development!

A lover of language, Swan took her first linguistics class at Indiana University and gained a master’s degree in French Linguistics. She continued her education at the University of Chicago, where she gained her PhD in General Linguistics and spent much of her time researching African American Vernacular English (AAVE).

Swan comes to SJSU with a plethora of teaching experience, both as an ESL instructor and as an assistant professor of sociolinguistics from Reed College. Her expertise allows her to teach a variety of general-level classes in LLD, such as Introduction to Linguistics; Nature of Language; Culture, Language & Ethnicity; and Language Variation.

Teaching at SJSU is perfect for Swan because she was raised to value education. She admires SJSU’s service to the community and is aware of the powerful role education plays in a person’s life.

San José’s cultural and linguistic diversity was also a reason Swan chose to teach here. Swan has been continuing her research on language patterns. Her work with Californian and Canadian vowel shifts has led to an invitation to submit a written work from the Linguistic Society of America. In the future, she would like to study the uniqueness of San José’s diversity and its impact on language.

Overall she enjoys researching language change and social motivation for language change, and is excited to bring her research skills to faculty and students.

“It’s important for me to help students recognize variable patterns in language use and how they correlate in social phenomena,” says Swan. Her goal is to raise students’ awareness of these processes happening all around them and to empower them to make their own analyses and insights.