Linguistics Courses

LING 131 Introduction to Linguistics

4 hours

Every time we utter a word, no matter how mundane, we engage in a remarkable and, to the best of our knowledge, uniquely human behavior. This course explores the human capacity to acquire and use language. Topics include the nature of dialectal differences and the sociolinguistic factors which determine them, the ways in which languages vary and the importance of linguistic diversity, and the nature of the knowledge of language and how it relates to child language acquisition and other aspects of human cognition. (HB)

LING 133 Introduction to Syntax

4 hours

The syntax of natural languages is a beautifully complex system of subconscious rules. What are they like? This course enables students to engage in building a theory of syntax. After an introduction to the basic tools of syntactic analysis, students tackle increasingly complex sets of data from English (and, occasionally, other languages), proposing and testing competing hypotheses against each other and refining them in light of new data. By the end of the course, students are able to identify syntactic puzzles in English or another language of their choice, propose analyses in the theory they have developed, and present their research in written and oral form. (HBSSM, Quant)

LING 135 Words

4 hours

This course examines what a word is: how we know one when we see one, how we assemble them from smaller pieces, and what meanings we use them to express. Drawing on examples from a wide range of languages, we develop an appreciation not only for how languages vary but for what all of this can tell us about the nature of the human mind. (HB)

LING 185 First-Year Seminar

4 hours

A variety of seminars for first-year students offered each January Term.

LING 220 Phonetics and Phonology

4 hours

When listening to the sounds of language, humans don't function like tape recorders; we overlook distinctions to which mechanical recording devices are sensitive, and we hear contrasts that are objectively not there. What we (think we) hear is determined by the sound system of the language we speak. This course examines the sound systems of human languages, focusing on how speech sounds are produced and perceived, and how these units come to be organized into a systematic network in the minds of speakers of languages. (HB)

LING 241 Breaking the Language Barrier

4 hours

Very young children can acquire a language without really trying, but learning a language later in life is a much more difficult task. Drawing on linguistic, cognitive, and methodological research, this course examines how second language acquisition differs at the various stages of life, what structural elements of language (phonological, grammatical, and lexical) are most challenging to acquire, and what one can do to make language learning and teaching as effective as possible. Offered in even-numbered years. (HB)

LING 242 The English Language(s)

4 hours

English speakers generally have a variety of beliefs about English: that it is a readily identifiable entity, that there is good and bad English, that change in English must be stopped to preserve the purity and elegance of the language, and that English is extremely well suited to clear thinking and precise expression; that's why its use spans the globe. This course seeks to dispel these myths by examining the multivaried reality of English as well as the idealized standard(s) that educated speakers strive for, in terms of its vocabulary (lexicon) and grammar (inflection and syntax). Because Standard English and our attitudes toward it have emerged only over time in response to specific cultural developments, our examination will necessarily take a historical perspective, so that we can investigate the relationship between the language's speakers and the historical events that shaped their lives from the earliest attestations of the language (Old English) to the modern period. (HB, Hist)

LING 245 History of the Romance Languages

4 hours

Although all Romance languages have Latin as their source, each is in many ways distinct from its siblings and from Latin. This course examines the primary changes in the phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon of Latin as it developed into the Romance language family, and explores the relationship between the ways in which a language changes and the historical events that shape the lives of its speakers. Prerequisite: FREN, SPAN, ITAL, or LAT 102 or above, or permission of the instructor. Offered every three years. (HB, Hist)

LING 247 Dialects

4 hours

In this course, we examine the power of dialect as a means of expressing our own, and identifying other people's, social identities. Using both linguistic and sociological criteria, we address such questions as: What is a dialect? In what ways do social phenomena such as regional loyalties, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender, and age shape the dialect we speak? What consequences does dialect variation have with regard to social equality? To what extent can this variation help us understand how and why languages change over time? Offered every third year. Prerequisite: a prior course in linguistics. (HBSSM, Intcl, R, W)

LING 389 Directed Research

1 hour

LING 395 Independent Study

1, 2, or 4 hours