Tongues Tied: UMD Linguistics Retirement

Michael D. Linn, UMD Linguistics professor and friend, celebrated his retirement this week. Linn is most famous, perhaps, for work in the Linguistic Atlas of our region. Mike is the reason that we know that the unique mix of ethnic communities in the Range produced more than 30 identifiable dialects. Maybe equally importantly, he explained (to me, at least) the ways that labor in the mines was fragmented and weakened when work groups were mixed together of people who did not speak the same language. No common language, no ability to organize unions. [Today, it seems, we are separated by a common language that keeps us from organizing. That’s my opinion, not Mike’s.]

Mike taught intro linguistics, topics in linguistics, and applied linguistics for teachers. I’m sure many teachers in Duluth learned their trade from Mike. He also taught writing. If you have any memories of Mike you’d like to share, comment below.

More info about Mike, including some indication of how he will spend retirement, can be found here



about 13 years ago

I took the Intro to Linguistics class from Mike in the mid 1980s and realized, through his passion in linguistics and languages, that I too had a keen interest in the same.  A real inspiration!  Thanks Mike!


about 13 years ago

I took his Intro to Linguistics class in the late 1990s (or was it the early 2000s?) and I loved it. Particularly because he was such a funny, insightful professor, but also because by taking it, I fulfilled the math requirement of my College of Liberal Arts core classes list. (Don't ask, it never made any sense to me, either.) In the long run, I definitely got more out of taking his linguistics class than I would've struggling through something that required a calculator.

Tony D.

about 13 years ago

Mike, along with UMD's Linda Miller-Cleary, is also the author of "Linguistics for Teachers,"  a text used throughout U.S. colleges for, well, decades now.

I took a few grad school classes from Mike and found him entertaining, engaging, and inspiring. It was also somehow comforting to know that a guy who could occasionally present as somewhat of a goofball was at the same time an absolutely brilliant academic. Congrats on a remarkable career, Mike!


about 13 years ago

I had Dr. Linn as part of my English Ed. program, and while he is the embodiment of an "absent-minded professor" who knew people's names on paper and faces by sight, but never really pinned down the details of how they matched up, he is an incredible teacher, a briliant linguist, a great story teller, and a kind, kind man. I'm certain that my whole cohort of English teacher pals would agree. He will be sorely missed on campus, I'm sure.

@Mary, I was also very grateful for the linguistics=math situation.

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