I was born and raised in
Gwangju (also spelled as "Kwangju"), one of the major cities of South
Korea located in the southwestern region. (Gwangju literally means 'a
town of light' and my name means 'agile/brilliant pearl'. So even though
both words contain a sound approximating 'ju', they actually mean quite
I came to the United States in
1997 and attended the University of Arizona and the University of
Massachusetts-Amherst between 1997 and 2004, earning two masters' and one
in linguistics. I joined the Texas Tech faculty in 2005 after having
taught at Northwestern University as a visiting assistant professor of
linguistics for a year.
When I was
little, I wanted to become a bakery owner, a singer, an actress, a
creative writer, and/or a Supreme Court justice. And back in
college and graduate school in Korea (Chonnam National University), I
majored in English education and English literature. So becoming a
linguist was something that I didn't quite expect in my former life. But this
accidental path has taken me to a place that I'd call a utopia (well,
most of the time!).
People like me do linguistics
largely because it's fun. But perhaps the more important reason is that only
humans are endowed with creative linguistic ability that is unbounded in
scope. So by studying human language scientifically, we can have a
better understanding of the human mind and ultimately what it means to
be a human in ways different from other species. (Incidentally, many
linguists are pretty good at baking, singing, and even acting, let alone
writing, arguing, and judging. So living as a linguist has turned out to
be not exactly incompatible with my earlier dreams!)
I'm married to a highenergy
physicist. And I have a daughter, who not only gives me
happiness and joy that go beyond my linguistic and literary abilities but also restores the sense of sanity that I often seem to lose.
© 2013 Min-Joo Kim | All Rights Reserved.