Linguistics

David Thompson (department head), Laurie Zaring (program director)

The ability to use language is something that should amaze us, given the fact that language represents the most complex system of communication that we know of. Linguistics is the study of this system—what its pieces are, how they combine, and how we acquire this system, as well as how we use it to express who we are socially and culturally.

The highly interdisciplinary nature of linguistics makes it an ideal discipline for study at a liberal arts college. Linguistics offers valuable insights to students of other social sciences such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, and social work. Students of English and classical and foreign languages also find knowledge about the structure, learning, and cross-cultural variation of language extremely helpful. Political science and business students benefit from insights on the politics of language, and physics, biology, and computer science students draw on linguistics to understand the physical properties of speech, neurolinguistics, and artificial intelligence.

The linguistics minor involves one required course (LING 131), two of three core linguistics courses (LING 133, LING 135, or LING 220), two electives, and a one-credit directed research capstone course (LING 389) taken after or during completion of the other five courses for the minor. Students interested in pursuing an individualized interdisciplinary major in linguistics should contact the head of the Linguistics section.

Required for a minor: 21 credit hours, including LING 131; two of LING 133, LING 135, or LING 220; two other linguistics courses or one other linguistics course and one of the following courses: ANTH 103, PHIL 110, MATH/CS 220, CS 451; and LING 389.