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Pre-Concentration Courses in Linguistics

Three 200-level courses introduce students to the methods and results of linguistic analysis. Students planning to concentrate in linguistics must elect one of these courses. Students are encouraged to select the course whose particular focus bests suits their own interests. The prerequisite does not count towards the 30 credit hours required for the concentration.

  • Ling 209, Language and Human Mind, is designed to introduce students to the cognitive revolution and its impact on the contemporary study of human linguistic systems as knowledge systems, a property of the mind. The course reviews the Chomskyan shift away from speech-behavior and/or corpora (products of behavior) as the object of inquiry, to a new focus on the experimental and theoretical study of the cognitive mechanisms underlying our unique human capacity for acquiring and using knowledge of language(s).
  • Ling 210, Introduction to Linguistic Analysis, introduces students to the analytic methods, and theoretical concepts, that linguists use for describing languages. Drawing on examples from a large number of the world's languages, students investigate the diverse sound, word, and sentence structures of individual languages, and consider whether there are properties common to all languages.
  • Ling 212, Introduction to the Symbolic Analysis of Language, is an introduction to the analytic tools used in the study of language. The course discusses what language is, what someone knows when they know a language, and what characterizes a scientific account, or formal analysis, of human knowledge of language. The analytic tools introduced may include phrase structure and transformational grammars, logic, and probability.

Concentration Requirements

The Linguistics concentration requires a total of 30 credit hours at the 300 level or higher. Students should consult with their advisor to ensure that their concentration program consists of a coherent set of courses. The interdisciplinary nature of the field of linguistics — and hence of the concentration program — makes it particularly important that students are aware of the options available to them.

Required Courses  

All concentrators are required to take the following three courses. This coursework should be completed as soon as possible, as it is intended to ensure that all students gain a solid understanding of the fundamental nature of language and the methods currently employed in linguistic analysis.

  1. Ling 313 Sound Patterns explores two fundamental aspects of the sounds of the world's languages: speech sounds as physical entities (phonetics) and speech sounds as linguistic units (phonology).
  2. Ling 315 Introduction to Syntax examines the rule system whereby words are organized into phrases and phrases into sentences in human languages.
  3. Ling 316 Aspects of Meaning introduces students to aspects of semantic and pragmatic systems in natural language, including logic and formal systems, reference/co-reference, and text analysis.
  4. Ling 497 Capstone Seminar (beginning Fall 2012) The capstone course is designed to provide students with an experience that brings previous coursework, particularly the required courses, to bear on a specific topic. The individual topics will vary by term; however, they all integrate the core areas of the discipline. Capstone courses require a final presentation of student work.

Additional Courses

 Beyond the three basic courses, concentrators are encouraged to fill out their program, in consultation with a linguistics concentration advisor, with courses that satisfy their own particular interests and goals. These additional courses may be offered by the Department of Linguistics or another program or department. For detailed information, see:

Concentrators may receive concentration credit for up to 12 credit hours for courses taken outside the Linguistics department (including courses taken while studying abroad).

Independent Study

Independent study courses allow students to explore and develop a research topic or area of interest through either a directed research experience or through in-depth directed reading. Independent study courses are initiated by the student and conducted with the guidance of a Linguistics faculty member. Students are responsible for approaching the relevant faculty member with whom they wish to work and should develop the course of their independent study in consultation with that faculty member.
No more than six credit hours of independent study may be counted toward the Linguistics major concentration and no more than three credit hours may be counted toward the minor concentration.
Please consult the Independent Study in Linguistics Guidelines and Application Form for additional information. Please note that students need to complete the Independent Study application before they will be able to register for an independent study course.

Double Concentration

Because the study of language is inherently interdisciplinary, a concentration in linguistics can be designed to integrate very well with other academic fields. A large proportion of current linguistics concentrators (more than half) complete double concentrations.
An LSA double concentration requires satisfying all of the concentration requirements of both programs. However, since LSA places no limit on the number of credit hours that may be offered jointly for both concentrations, this allows students to double-concentrate with substantially fewer than 60 total concentration credit hours.
Students considering a double concentration in linguistics and another field in LSA should consult concentration advisors in both fields.