The Department of Linguistics & English at the University of Jaffna has its roots in the Unit of Language and Cultural Studies which was established in 1975 when the Faculty of Humanities of the then Jaffna Campus of the University of Ceylon was renamed the Faculty of Arts. The Unit of Language and Cultural Studies was upgraded into a full-fledged Department in 1981. This Department was bifurcated into Department of Linguistics & English and Department of Christian & Islamic Civilizations in 1989. It is noteworthy that the Department of Linguistics & English at the University of Jaffna is one of the two academic centers in Sri Lanka where Linguistics is taught as an independent discipline.
The Department of Linguistics & English at present offers two special degree undergraduate programs, one in Linguistics and one in English Literature. Undergraduates who read for a BA General Degree and Special Degrees in other subjects may also take courses in Linguistics and English Literature offered by the Department every semester. The Department also offers undergraduate-level enhancement courses in French with the assistance of Visiting Lecturers.
The Department has eight cardre positions in Linguistics including a cardre Chair and three cadre positions in English Literature. Based on the needs of the Department, Temporary Lecturers and Visiting Lecturers are recruited every year to support teaching activities.
The senior faculty attached to the Department of Linguistics & English serve as supervisors for research conducted by MPhil and PhD candidates in Linguistics and English at the Faculty of Graduate Studies and contribute to the BA (External Degree) program conducted by the Centre for Open and Distance Learning (CODL) as resource persons and examiners.
The alumni of this Department work as academics, teachers, journalists, translators, researchers, editors, administrators and hold important positions in both the public and private sectors of Sri Lanka and abroad.