The Department of Linguistics at Stony Brook University is hosting the first Middle Eastern Languages Summer Institute (MELSI) to be held Tuesday, May 28 – Wednesday, July 3, 2019. Students can choose to study from among 4 languages spoken in the Middle East (Arabic, Kurdish, Persian, Turkish), and they can take a “Language and Life in the Middle East” course as well. Cultural activities will be organized for students in the program.
MELSI addresses a dire need in higher education in this country: instruction in understudied languages which include some of the most commonly spoken languages in the world today. For example, Arabic is the 5th most common, Turkish 22nd, Persian 29th, and Kurdish 57th. They are typologically diverse, belonging to three different language families (Semitic, Altaic, Indo- European), and they represent some of the most ancient and fascinating cultures. These are also languages deemed “critical” by the US government, spoken in an area of vital importance in the world today. However, very few universities offer instruction in these languages.