At Washington University, the Linguistics program offers an undergraduate major and minor. The core of the Linguistics program is the study of the form language takes. Students examine how words are built from sounds, how sentences are built from words, and how all this structure manages to communicate meaning. With a good understanding of these formal properties, students can pursue other questions about language. How does language change over time? Do diverse languages have more in common than meets the eye? What functions does language play in society? What is its relation to thought? What are its biological and psychological underpinnings? And just how do children manage to acquire language so well in the first place?

Linguistics takes a scientific approach to the study of language and develops skills in data analysis and scientific experimental methods. Linguistics students may or may not speak many languages, but they definitely will learn how to collect and analyze data about languages in an effort to answer these questions.

Contact:Brett Hyde

The Major in Linguistics

Total units required: 30, of which 18 must be in courses numbered 300 or higher

Required courses:

Ling 170DIntroduction to Linguistics3
Ling 309Syntactic Analysis3
Ling 313Phonological Analysis3
Ling 317Introduction to Computational Linguistics3
Total Units12

Elective courses: 18 units. At least 6 units must come from this list:

Ling 306GPhilosophy of Language3
Ling 311Introduction to Semantics3
Ling 312Phonetics3
Ling 315Morphology3
Ling 320Historical and Comparative Linguistics3
Ling 339Introduction to Sociolinguistics3
Ling 408Psychology of Language3
Psych 358Language Acquisition3

The remaining electives may be drawn from either the above list or the following:

Ling 225DLatin and Greek in Current English3
Ling 234Introduction to Speech and Hearing Disorders3
Ling 301GSymbolic Logic3
Ling 341Linguistic Diversity in the United States3
Ling 3701Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics3
Ling 390Linguistics Service Learning I3
Ling 391Linguistics Service Learning II3
Ling 396Linguistics Seminar3
Ling 466Second Language Acquisition3
Ling 495Senior Seminar in Linguistics3
Ling 499Independent Work For Senior Honors6 max
Ling 500Independent Work in Linguistics3
AFAS 210The Linguistic Legacy of the African Slave Trade in Interdisciplinary Perspective3
Anthro 3386Language, Culture and Society3

Under certain circumstances, students may count toward their major a limited number of relevant classes not listed here. Such circumstances include study abroad and preparation for a specialized capstone. A specific plan of study must be worked out in advance with advisers in the Linguistics program.

Language requirement: Majors should normally have foreign language competency equivalent to one year of study at the college level. Classes taken to fulfill this requirement do not normally count toward the 30 total units required for the major.

Additional Information

Capstone: A senior project is required of primary majors. This normally will be done while taking Ling 495 or Ling 500, or by completing the Senior Honors program (Ling 499).

Senior Honors: Students with a university GPA of 3.65 and a Linguistics GPA of 3.65 at the end of their junior year may apply to enter the honors program by submitting a proposal for a senior thesis. If admitted into the program, the student registers for 3 units of Ling 499 in each semester of the senior year. The student must complete the thesis and pass an oral defense by the middle of March.

The Minor in Linguistics

Units required: 15, of which 9 must be in courses numbered 300 or higher

Required course:

Ling 170DIntroduction to Linguistics3

Elective courses: 12 units. At least 6 units must come from this list:

Ling 309Syntactic Analysis3
Ling 311Introduction to Semantics3
Ling 312Phonetics3
Ling 313Phonological Analysis3
Ling 315Morphology3
Ling 317Introduction to Computational Linguistics3
Ling 320Historical and Comparative Linguistics3
Ling 339Introduction to Sociolinguistics3

Remaining units may come from any course acceptable as an elective for the major.

Visit online course listings to view semester offerings for L44 Ling.

L44 Ling 170D Introduction to Linguistics

Language is one of the fundamental capacities of the human species, and there are many interesting and meaningful ways in which it can be studied. This course explores the core components of linguistic theory: speech sounds (phonetics and phonology), word formation (morphology), sentence structure (syntax) and meaning (semantics). It also provides an overview of interdisciplinary ideas and research on how language is acquired and processed, its relation to the mind-brain and to society, and the question of whether the essential properties of language can be replicated outside the human mind (specifically, in chimpanzees or computer programs).

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: SSC Arch: SSC Art: SSC BU: BA, HUM EN: S

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L44 Ling 225D Latin and Greek in Current English

An astonishingly large number of English words, especially in areas such as medicine, science, and law, are derived from Latin and Greek. This course will provide a study of the impact of Latin and Greek on the English language through study of the Latin and Greek roots, prefixes, and suffixes that are most commonly found in English technical and non-technical vocabulary and the linguistic principles through which these elements have entered the English language.
Same as L08 Classics 225D

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: HUM Art: HUM BU: HUM

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L44 Ling 234 Introduction to Speech and Hearing Disorders

Introduction to the fields of speech-language pathology, audiology, education of hearing-impaired children, and speech and hearing sciences. Normal speech and hearing processes are discussed, as well as communication disorders. Selected research topics in speech and hearing sciences are presented.
Same as L12 Educ 234

Credit 3 units. BU: BA EN: S

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L44 Ling 258 Methods in Linguistic Research

This course will introduce students to a range of formal, computational, and experimental tools for conducting linguistic research. Students will learn about different types of linguistic data, experimental design, and statistical techniques in the context of research in general linguistics, psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics. This course aims to make students more capable readers of linguistic research (and scientific research more generally) and to provide them with hands-on experience in employing linguistic research methods. The course will also serve as an introduction to R for statistical computing. The class is intended for freshman and sophomore students who are considering advanced study in the linguistics program. Prerequisite: Ling 170D.

Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: SSC

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L44 Ling 301G Symbolic Logic

In the first half of the course we study some features of truth-functional and first-order classical logics, including studying the model theory and metatheory for first-order logic in much greater depth than in Phil 100. In the second half of the course we go on to study three different styles of proof-system: tableaux, axiomatic, and natural deduction. This course continues on where Phil 100: An Introduction to Logic and Critical Analysis leaves off. It is recommended for students who have already taken that introductory course, or for students who already have a strong background in mathematics. Priority given to majors in philosophy and PNP.
Same as L30 Phil 301G

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: NSM, AN Art: NSM BU: HUM

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L44 Ling 306G Philosophy of Language

A survey of major philosophical problems concerning meaning, reference, and truth as they have been addressed within the analytic tradition. Readings that represent diverse positions on these focal issues will be selected from the work of leading philosophers in the field, for example: Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Davidson, Quine, Kripke, and Putnam. Students are encouraged to engage critically the ideas and arguments presented, and to develop and defend their own views on the core topics. Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy at the 100 or 200 level, or permission of the instructor. Priority given to majors in philosophy and PNP.
Same as L30 Phil 306G

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: HUM Art: HUM BU: HUM

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L44 Ling 309 Syntactic Analysis

The ability to produce and understand an infinite number of sentences is perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the human language faculty. Syntax is the study of how the brain organizes sentences from smaller phrases and words. This course explores syntactic analysis from several perspectives within generative linguistics, focusing primarily on the Government and Binding framework but also introducing Minimalist and Optimality Theoretic approaches. Topics discussed include phrase structure, transformations, case theory, thematic roles and anaphora. Assignments help students learn to construct and compare analyses of syntactic problems in English and other languages. Prerequisite: Ling 170D or 440, or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: SSC BU: HUM EN: S

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L44 Ling 311 Introduction to Semantics

Semantics is the branch of linguistics that studies how speakers assign meaning to words, sentences and larger units of discourse. We combine perspectives from both linguistics and philosophy to explore a variety of topics including polysemy, compositionality, quantification, anaphora, definite descriptions, attitude reports, presupposition and implicature. Prerequisite: Ling 170D or Phil 301G or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: SSC Arch: SSC Art: SSC BU: HUM EN: S

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L44 Ling 312 Phonetics

Phonetics is the study of the sounds of the languages of the world. The primary goal of the course is to learn how speech sounds are produced, so that the student can describe them in articulatory terms, write them out in a standard notational system, and produce them accurately. Other topics include a basic introduction to the acoustics of speech and the use of personal computers to display, analyze and synthesize human speech. The course should prove useful to students desiring a deeper understanding of one of the fundamental underpinnings of linguistics, but also has practical applications in such fields as foreign language learning and the appreciation and acquisition of new dialects and accents. Prerequisite: Ling 170D or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: SSC Arch: SSC Art: SSC BU: HUM EN: S

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L44 Ling 313 Phonological Analysis

There are several important abilities involved in the use of human language, one of these being the ability to organize speech sounds. The system that the brain uses to accomplish this task is the subject matter of phonology. This course explores phonology from several perspectives within generative linguistics, including both traditional rule-based and current Optimality Theoretic approaches. Topics discussed include phonological features, lexical phonology, prosodic morphology, tone and metrical stress. Assignments help students learn to analyze phonological problems in a variety of languages and to evaluate the consequences of using different analytic approaches. Prerequisite: Ling 170D or 440, or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: SSC BU: BA EN: S

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L44 Ling 315 Morphology

Concepts covered: morphemic analysis and investigation of morphological processes. Additional topics may include relationship of morphology to language-typology and to syntax. Prerequisite: Ling 170D, or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: SSC EN: S

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L44 Ling 317 Introduction to Computational Linguistics

Use of computers to analyze, understand and generate human language. Emphasis on appreciating practical applications such as text analysis; search and creation of dictionaries and corpora; information retrieval; machine translation; and speech interfaces. Survey of rule-based and statistical techniques. Students acquire programming skills appropriate for solving small- to medium-scale problems in linguistics and text processing, using a language such as Python. Students have regular programming assignments and complete a semester project. No previous knowledge of programming required. Prerequisites: Ling 170D or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: SSC EN: H, S

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L44 Ling 320 Historical and Comparative Linguistics

Historical linguistics focuses on how languages change over time. Comparative linguistics focuses on their similarities and differences. In this course we trace some of the differences and changes in sound (phonetics and phonology), word formation (morphology), sentence structure (syntax) and meaning (semantics). Topics include linguistic universals; the structural and genetic classification of languages; the techniques of reconstructing proto-languages; and the causes of language change. Examples from Indo-European languages (for example, Greek, English and Spanish) and from Native American languages (for example, Quechua and Mayan) are emphasized. Prerequisite: Ling 170D.

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: LCD, SSC Art: HUM BU: HUM EN: S

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L44 Ling 339 Introduction to Sociolinguistics

Studies of language in social context are presented, including research related to diglossia, bilingualism, pidginization, creolization and dialectology. Discourse analyses and conversational analyses of face-to-face conversation are examined in methodological and analytical terms. Beyond assigned readings, critical discourse analyses, the ethnography of speaking, the sociology of language, and accommodation theory are also considered. Students are required to develop a course project related to one or more studies of language in use. Experimental studies of sociophonetics and sociohistorical linguistics are presented during lectures to demonstrate advanced interdisciplinary research with potential educational and legal relevance. Prerequisite: Ling 170D.

Credit 3 units. A&S: SS, SD A&S IQ: SSC, SD EN: S

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L44 Ling 341 Linguistic Diversity in the United States

Linguistic diversity has always existed within the United States, and this course begins with a survey of many of the indigenous Native American languages that existed prior to European colonization. The emphasis of this course is linguistic research, as we examine diverse studies of language across the nation with respect to regional differences, racial and ethnic differences, historical differences, and differences in education and economic status. American bilingualism is explored, as are many of the dialects that have evolved in different parts of the nation. Students study a range of sophisticated linguistic analyses of language diversity in different parts of the United States at different points in the nation's history. The culmination of the course explores practical linguistic applications in legal and educational contexts. Prerequisites: Ling 170D and some familiarity with elementary statistics.

Credit 3 units. A&S: SS, SD A&S IQ: SSC, SD EN: S

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L44 Ling 3701 Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics

An introduction to the scientific study of the Spanish language, this course focuses on each of the major linguistic subsystems, including the sound system (phonetics and phonology), word formation (morphology), formation of phrases and sentences (syntax), and the use of the language to convey meaning (semantics and pragmatics). At each level of analysis, selected comparisons are made between Spanish and English and between Spanish and other languages. The course also examines different historical, regional and social varieties of Spanish and situations of Spanish in contact with other languages.
Same as L38 Span 370

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: LCD BU: HUM EN: H

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L44 Ling 390 Linguistics Service Learning I

Because language is fundamental to human communication, differences in language can present particularly difficult barriers to learning. Taking classes in a language that is not your native language, for example, presents special challenges both to students and their teachers. For speakers of nonstandard dialects, taking classes in a standard dialect presents subtler — and in some ways, even more difficult — challenges. This course provides students with a concrete understanding of the practical difficulties arising from linguistic differences and helps them discover ways in which these difficulties can be addressed. In particular, students are expected to devote two hours per week tutoring local K-12 students and to keep a journal focusing on their experiences from a linguistic perspective. Students will be expected to attend weekly meetings with faculty and community partners to relate challenges that they have encountered and to discuss possible solutions. Students will also receive training on how to better understand and serve under-sourced and diverse populations. Prerequisite: at least two 300-level courses in Linguistics or permission of the instructors.

Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: SSC BU: HUM EN: S

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L44 Ling 391 Linguistics Service Learning II

Linguistics Service Learning II meets with Linguistics Service Learning I, but it requires completion of additional written assignments. Prerequisite: Ling 390.

Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: SSC BU: HUM EN: S

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L44 Ling 396 Linguistics Seminar

Readings on a selected topic in theoretical linguistics with an emphasis on discussion, presentation and writing. Prerequisite: varies with topic.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: SSC EN: S

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L44 Ling 408 Psychology of Language

This course surveys current research and theory in psycholinguistics, covering the biological bases, cognitive bases and learning of language. We consider studies of normal children and adults, the performance of individuals with various types of language disorders, and computer simulations of language processes. Topics range from the perception and production of speech sounds to the management of conversations. Each student carries out an original research project on some aspect of psycholinguistics. Prerequisites: Ling 170D and Psych 100B.
Same as L33 Psych 433

Credit 3 units. A&S: SS A&S IQ: SSC Art: SSC

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L44 Ling 466 Second Language Acquisition

There are many ways in which a second language can be learned: from infancy as the child of bilingual parents, or later through formal instruction, immersion in a new culture, or in a particular work or social situation. This class is an inquiry into the processes by which acquisition occurs. Topics include the nature of language learning within the scope of other types of human learning; the relationship between first- and second-language acquisition; the role of linguistic, cognitive and sociocultural factors; insights gained from analyzing learners' errors; key concepts such as interlanguage and communicative competence; bilingualism; the optimal age for second-language acquisition; and a critical appraisal of different theories of second-language acquisition. Both theoretical and instructional implications of second-language acquisition research are considered. This course can be used toward certification in TESOL and is a required course for the Graduate Certificate in Language Instruction. Prerequisite: Ling 170D or equivalent is recommended, especially for undergraduates, but is not required.

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: HUM EN: H

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L44 Ling 4691 Second Language Reading and Writing: Theory, Research and Practice

This course, taught in English, extends issues in second language literacy beyond pedagogy by examining the wide range of theoretical and research issues, both historical and current. Literacy acquisition among second language learners involves a number of variables including both cognitive and social factors. Topics discussed in class include literacy and social power, universal cognitive operations, individual learner differences, text types and literary forms, and the extent to which reading and writing are interrelated. Students discuss how to bridge research and practice, and they create reading and writing activities driven by theory and empirical investigations. This course is a required course for the undergraduate minor in applied linguistics and an elective for the Graduate Certificate in Language Instruction.
Same as L38 Span 4691

Credit 3 units. A&S: SS A&S IQ: SSC EN: S

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L44 Ling 478 Topics in Linguistics

Meets with designated linguistics course, but with additional writing and research required for graduate credit and certification.

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: SSC EN: S

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L44 Ling 495 Senior Seminar in Linguistics

The Senior Seminar affords students an opportunity to integrate the various fields of linguistics. Readings, discussions and presentations let students address issues that combine the content and the research methods of areas such as phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, diachrony and semantics. Students have individual projects within the scope of the semester's particular topic, but the class as a whole helps in choosing, developing and refining the treatment. This course fulfills the requirement for a senior capstone for primary majors in linguistics. It is the normal option for students who wish to take the capstone as a regular class rather than as sponsored independent study.

Credit 3 units. A&S: SS A&S IQ: SSC EN: S

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L44 Ling 499 Independent Work For Senior Honors

Prerequisites: senior standing and permission of the Linguistics program.

Credit variable, maximum 6 units.

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Brett D. Hyde
Associate Professor
PhD, Rutgers University
(Linguistics, Philosophy, Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology)

Core Faculty

Kristen Greer
PhD, University of California, Davis
(Linguistics, Philosophy)

Kristin J. Van Engen
Assistant Professor
PhD, Northwestern University
(Linguistics, Psychology)

Participating Faculty

David A. Balota
PhD, University of South Carolina
(Psychology, Neurology)

Joe Barcroft
PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
(Romance Languages and Literatures)

John Baugh
Margaret Bush Wilson Professor in Arts & Sciences
PhD, University of Pennsylvania
(Anthropology, Education, English, Psychology)

Cindy Brantmeier
PhD, Indiana University

Jonathan Peelle
Research Assistant Professor
PhD, Brandeis University

Steven E. Petersen
James S. McDonnell Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience
PhD, California Institute of Technology
(Neurology, Psychology)

Mitchell S. Sommers
PhD, University of Michigan

Roy Sorensen
PhD, Michigan State University

Rebecca Treiman
Burke and Elizabeth High Baker Professor of Child Developmental Psychology
PhD, University of Pennsylvania

Gerhild Williams
Barbara Schaps Thomas and David M. Thomas Professor in the Humanities
PhD, University of Washington, Seattle

Emeritus Faculty

Brett Kessler
PhD, Stanford University