Our faculty are interested in many different aspects of language: how we speak, understand and learn language; how languages change over time; how computers can understand and generate language; and how social and cultural contexts influence language. Undergraduate and graduate students study these and other aspects of language through our diverse course offerings. Our academic programs allow students the flexibility to develop programs of study specific to their personal goals and interests.

Linguistics undergraduates talking

What do linguists study and teach?

Linguistics attempts to answer such questions as:

  • How the mind enables us to produce and understand utterances
  • How children acquire language
  • How and why languages resemble and differ from each other
  • How and why languages change over time and how they are related
  • How the categories of language relate to the world
  • How language use varies across different social and cultural contexts
  • How to make computers talk and 'understand' human languages

Getting started...

Students interested in learning more about linguistics and its relationship to other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences are encouraged to take Linguistics 1101, a general overview that is a prerequisite for most other courses in the field or one of the first-year writing seminars offered in linguistics (on topics such as metaphor, language processing and disorders, English outside the box and the language instinct). Linguistics 1101 and our other introductory courses fulfill various distribution requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Most of our 1100- and 2200-level courses have no prerequisites. These cover various topics in linguistics or the historical development of particular languages:

  • LING 1109 - English Words: Histories and Mysteries
  • LING 2221 - Language and Society
  • LING 2223 - Language and the Law
  • LIGN 2248 - Native American Languages
  • LING 2264 - Language, Mind, and Brain
  • LING 2285 - Linguistic Theory and Poetic Structure