For a complete list of languages offered by the University, please click here.

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Undergraduate Courses

Introduction to Linguistics
20001. This course offers a brief survey of how linguists analyze the structure and the use of language. Looking at the structure of language means understanding what phonemes, words, and sentences are, and how each language establishes principles for the combinations of these things and for their use; looking at the use of language means understanding the ways in which individuals and groups use language to declare their social identity and the ways in which languages can change over time. The overarching theme is understanding what varieties of language structure and use are found across the world's languages and cultures, and what limitations on this variety exist.
Staff, Autumn
Staff, Winter
Staff, Spring

Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology
20101. PQ: LING 20001. This course is an introduction to the study of speech sounds and their patterning in the world’s languages. The first half of the course focuses on how speech sounds are described with respect to their articulatory, acoustic, and perceptual structures. The second focuses on fundamental notions that have always been central to phonological analysis and that transcend differences between theoretical approaches: contrast, neutralization, natural classes, distinctive features, and basic phonological processes (e.g., assimilation).
Staff, Autumn

Introduction to Syntax
20201. PQ: LING 20001. This course is an introduction to basic goals and methods of current syntactic theory through a detailed analysis of a range of phenomena, with emphasis on argumentation and empirical justification. Major topics include phrase structure and constituency, selection and subcategorization, argument structure, case, voice, expletives, and raising and control structures.
Staff, Winter

Introduction to Semantics
Itamar Francez, Winter

Introduction to Semantics & Pragmatics
20301/30310. This course is designed to familiarize undergraduate students (and graduate students from outside of the Linguistics Department) with that it means to study meaning and use in natural language. By "meaning" we refer to the communicative contents of words and combinations thereof (semantics), and by "use" we intend to capture how meaning is constructed and interpreted in discourse, and what kinds of additional or non-literal interpretations may arise from context (pragmatics). Students are introduced to some core concepts used in the analysis of meaning and context-based interpretation: dentation, reference, quantification, propositional meaning (compositionality), presupposition, speech acts (illocution, perlocution), implicature, and context vs. contextual domain. The main goal is to familiarize students with basic topics in semantics and pragmatics and to help them develop fundamental skills is semantic and pragmatic analysis.
Staff, Spring

Introduction to Morphology
21000. PQ: LING 20001. Looking at data from a wide range of languages, we will study the structure of words. We will consider the nature of the elements out of which words are built and the principles that govern their combination. The effects of word structure on syntax, semantics, and phonology will be examined. We will think critically about the concepts of morpheme, inflection, derivation, and indeed, the concept of word itself.
Staff, Winter

Language and Violence
23450. Language is generally associated with the abstract realm of thought, representation and expression, a realm that contrasts sharply with the material realm in which we tend to place violence. Language is furthermore often seen as antithetical to violence: violence is outburst that comes when the rational order of language fails. In fact, however, questions of language, and especially of speech, surface in every aspect of thinking about violence. Speech is a medium within which violence is performed, and is part of the modern machinery of war. It is also a medium through which systems of oppression and subordination are articulated and registered by groups and individuals, socially and psychicaly. Violence relies on speech for its justification, rationalization, and sustention. At the same time, the rawness of violence challenges our fundamental faith in the representational and expressive capacities of language, in both destructive and creative ways. This intensive reading seminar explores the relation between speech and violence through scholarly and literary texts from a variety of humanistic fields and traditions.
Itamar Francez, Spring

Linguistic Perspectives on Language Disorders
23800.  PQ: LING 20001.  Language disorders provide a fascinating look at the nature of many aspects of linguistic structure, and in some cases provide key data for answering questions about the nature of human language.  In this class, we discuss several common speech and language disorders (such as aphasia, dysarthria, and specific language impairment) as well as more general neurodevelopmental disorders (such as autism spectrum disorder) which can impact language.  While we will discuss clinical characterizations of these disorders to some degree, the focus of the class will be on working directly with language data from speakers in order to understand specific linguistic patterns associated with these disorders, and to explore how these patterns can inform questions about, for example, the nature of phonological representations, the structure of the lexicon, and the relationship between semantics and pragmatics in language processing.  The course is designed to give students exposure to research on language disorders (including several novel experimental techniques for studying disordered language) while also giving them an opportunity to refine their analytical skills in linguistics.

Code Making, Code Breaking
26040. This course investigates the nature and use of codes and ciphers: what they are, how they are constructed and solved, and the significant roles they have played throughout history. We will begin by looking at the development of writing, the most basic tool for encoding thought and experience, and at the techniques for deciphering it.  We will then turn to a deeper examination of the ideas and methods of cryptography and cryptanalysis, and their role in concealing and revealing information in different areas of humanistic inquiry, including literature, religion and philosophy. Finally, we will turn to the role of code making and code breaking in contemporary society, with particular focus on the development of computation and computational theories of intelligence and the relation between encryption, privacy and freedom of information in a democratic society.
Chris Kennedy, Autumn

26020 (= SIGN 26007) "One of the salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit," says the Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt in his 1986 essay, 'On Bullshit.' Frankfurt distinguishes bullshit from lying, and argues that it is the more insidious of the two because it involves not an attempt to conceal the truth, but rather a failure to even care about the truth in the first place. But what exactly is truth, and why should we care so much about it? This course will begin with an examination of the fundamental role of a truth convention in meaning and communication, the way that such a convention makes bullshit possible, and the causes and consequences of bullshit. We will then turn to foundational questions about the nature of truth, criticisms of the value of truth and why they have had such appeal, and expressions of skepticism about the possibility of "objective" truth. Along the way, we will consider whether it makes sense for everyone to agree that something is the case and yet still be wrong; whether our claims to know certain things are always limited because they come from a particular perspective; paradoxes of truth and falsity and their relevance for scientific inquiry; and what value (if any) truth contributes to the well-lived life.
Chris Kennedy, Winter

American Deaf Community: Language, Culture, and Society
26030 (=SIGN 26018). This course will focus on the Deaf community that uses American Sign Language (ASL) as a lens into the disciplines of linguistics, psychology, and cultural studies, and how the use of ASL contributes to individual identity and identity within society.  In addition to these disciplinary foci, topics of Deaf literature and art forms will figure in the discussion and readings, which come from a variety of sources and include seminal works in the field from historical and contemporary perspectives.
Diane Brentari, Winter

26520.  Description TBA.  Chris Kennedy, Spring.

27010 (=PSYC 27010). This is a survey course in the psychology of language. We will focus on issues related to language comprehension, language production and language acquisition. The course will also train students on how to read primary literature and conduct original research studies.
Staff, Autumn

Child Language: Socialization, Development, and Acquisition.
20702 (=LING, PSYC) 
This course will provide a broad cross-disciplinary introduction to the study of how children learn language. This question is of interest to many fields, in particular: developmental psychology, linguistic anthropology and linguistics, but each of these fields have markedly different perspectives on the nature of the process and outcomes of language learning. This class will use background lectures and seminar discussions to explore theoretical claims and methodological strategies across disciplines.

The topics will include case studies from a variety of languages and cultures and students will be encouraged to think critically about the benefits and drawbacks of each of the three disciplinary perspectives to better understand what it means to “know” a language in a cognitive, cultural and structural sense. Finally, we will consider the implications of linguistic fluency for cognition, in terms of “semantic accent” as well as the specific kinds of linguistic competence, like literacy, that are the result of specialized training and education. CHDV Distribution: B, C (L. Horton, Winter)

Undergraduate Field Methods
28700.  How does one begin to understand the grammar of an understudied language? In this class, students will work with a native speaker of such a language to learn how to undertake this process of description, analysis, and documentation. Students will learn how to plan and conduct elicitations of linguistic data (from the sound system, to the morphology, to the syntax and semantics), as well as how to organize and keep track of their data and begin to write about the grammar.  We will also discuss the kinds of challenges linguists face when conducting fieldwork (both individually and in a team setting) and best practices when it comes to working with communities of speakers in documenting endangered languages.  In addition to weekly in-class meetings with a speaker of the language of study, students will be expected to meet individually and in small groups with the speaker outside of class to describe aspects of the grammar.  This will culminate in the creation of a basic grammatical sketch for the language which we will develop together.
Kathryn Franich, Spring


Biological and Cultural Evolution
Salikoko Mufwene, Winter

Language and Communication
20150/30150. This course can also be taken by students who are not majoring in Linguistics but are interested in learning something about the uniqueness of human language, spoken or signed. It covers a selection from the following topics: What is the position of spoken language in the usually multimodal forms of communication among humans? In what ways does spoken language differ from signed language? What features make spoken and signed language linguistic? What features distinguish linguistic means of communication from animal communication? How do humans communicate with animals? From an evolutionary point of view, how can we account for the fact that spoken language is the dominant mode of communication in all human communities around the world? Why cannot animals really communicate linguistically? What do the terms language "acquisition" and "transmission" really mean? What factors account for differences between "language acquisition" by children and by adults? Are children really perfect language learners? What factors bring about language evolution, including language speciation and the emergence of new language varieties? How did language evolve in mankind? This is a general education course without any prerequisites. It provides a necessary foundation to those working on language at the graduate and undergraduate levels.
Salikoko Mufwene, Autumn

Introduction to Indo-European Linguistics
21310/31310. An introduction to the comparative study of the Indo-European languages.  We will survey the major branches of the Indo-European family and discuss various aspects of PIE grammar as it is currently reconstructed.
Yaroslav Gorbachov, Spring

The Evolution of Language
21920/41920.  This course is designed to review critically some of the literature on the phylogenetic emergence of Language, in order to determine which questions have been central to the subject matter, which ones have recurred the most, and to what extent the answers to these are now better informed. The class will also review new questions such as the following: What is the probable time of the emergence of modern language(s)? Should we speak of the emergence of Language or of languages, in the plural? What does the choice of the singular or plural delimitation of language entail for accounts of the emergence of typological diversity? How do debates on the emergence of language(s) bear on the nature and significance of Universal Grammar (aka the language organ or the biological endowment for language, among other names)? Is there any real conflict between arguing that languages are cultural artifacts and supporting the position that humans are biologically endowed to develop or learn them? What ecological factors explain the fact that human populations are primarily speaking rather than signing? Assuming that languages are communicative tools or technology, are there any strong reasons for expecting the architectures of signed and spoken languages to be identical? To what extent does modality bear on the architecture of signed and spoken languages? Can these questions be addressed independent of what the ecology of the phylogenetic emergence of language(s) is? Etc.
Salikoko Mufwene, Winter

Laboratory Phonology
22750/32750.  This course is intended to provide a foundation for students to pursue the quantitative study of phonology in the context of human interaction, and of speech and perception in the context of language. Specifically, this course focuses on how to design, conduct, and analyze a phonological experiment. We will approach laboratory phonology from the perspectives of both the speaker and the listener, with each perspective constituting roughly half the course. In the process, we will gain and practice skills in experimental phonetic and psycholinguistic work, while testing aspects of current phonological theory.

Alan Yu, Winter

Old Church Slavic
23115/35100. Old Church Slavonic is the oldest attested Slavic language. OCS played the same role in medieval Slavia Orthodoxa (and even in parts of Slavia Romana) as Latin did in the medieval Roman Catholic realm: it was the scriptural, ritual, liturgical, and scholarly medium of Church life. The surviving OCS texts are primarily ecclesiastical (biblical and liturgical). We will read them in Cyrillic or Cyrillic transliteration of the original Glagolitic.
Being the oldest Slavic language, OCS preserves many features which are useful to know in “looking back” at the earlier stages of the linguistic history of Slavic (Proto-Slavic and Proto-Indo-European), as well as in “looking forward” at the modern Slavic languages. In particular, the complicated morphophonemics of any modern Slavic language begins to make much more sense after studying OCS. Furthermore, a knowledge of OCS is indispensable for doing work in Russian linguistics and Russian literature, since at all stages of its history literary Russian has had a significant Church Slavonic component.
In this course, we will study OCS grammar and the lexicon with two general aims: first, to prepare the student for translation and grammatical and textual commentary of a selection of original OCS texts (which will take place in the second half of the course); and second, to place those texts in their cultural and historical context.
Yaroslav Gorbachov, Winter.

Topics in Semantics and Pragmatics: Quantification
Anastasia Giannakidou, Winter

Language of Deception and Humor
23920/33920. In this course, we will examine the language of deception and humor from a variety of perspectives: historical, developmental, neurological, and cross-cultural and in a variety of contexts: fiction, advertising, politics, courtship, and everyday conversation. We will focus on the (linguistic) knowledge and skills that underlie the use of humor and deception and on what sorts of things they are used to communicate.
Jason Riggle, Winter

Creole Genesis and Genetic Linguistics
24960/34960. PQ: LING 21300/31300 (Historical Linguistics), LING 26310/36310 (Contact Linguistics), or consent of the instructor. In this seminar course we will review the "creole exceptionalism" tradition against the uniformitarian view, according to which creoles have emerged and evolved like other, natural and non-creole languages. We will situate creoles in the context of the plantation settlement colonies that produced them and compare their emergence specifically with that of languages such as English and the Romance languages in Europe. We will also compare these evolutions with those of new colonial varieties of European languages (such as Amish English, mainstream American English varieties, Brazilian Portuguese, and Québécois French) which emerges around the same time but are not considered creoles. Using the comparative approach (in evolutionary theory), we will assess whether the criteria used in the genetic classification of languages have been applied uniformly to creole and non-creole languages. In return, we will explore ways in which genetic creolists can inform and improve genetic linguistics (including historical dialectology).
Salikoko Mufwene, Spring

Chicago Linguistic Landscape
27150/37150.  The field of Linguistic Landscapes examines the public display of languages, dialects, and writing systems: who is the author and audience of such messages? which languages are chosen for official signage? what can we learn about present or past multilingualism? what is conveyed by nonstandard dialect forms or stylized writing? In this course students will collaborate on creating an online map of Chicago with geo-tagged images. At least 3 weekend days will be spent on field trips to Chicago neighborhoods.
Amy Dahlstrom, Autumn

Introduction to Kinyarwanda I
28380/38380. Spoken by around 18 million Central and Eastern Africa, Kinyarwanda / Kirundi is one of the most spoken Bantu languages and has the status of an official language in Rwanda and Burundi. Based on a conversation book and a grammar guide, this course integrates speaking practice and linguistic discussion. It will allow the students to understand fundamental structures of Kinyarwanda in various areas. Topics include sound and tonal patterns, noun class agreements, verb moods, and sentence structures. Additionally, this course provides important listening and expressive reading skills. It will allow the students to discover elements of the Rwandan culture and to participate in elementary conversation about everyday life in Kinyarwanda. This is a general introduction course with no specific prerequisites. It allows fulfulling the non-Indo-European language requirement.
Fidele Mpiranya, Winter

Introduction to Kinyarwanda II
28381/38381. PQ: LING 28380/38380. This course is a continuation of Introduction to Kinyarwanda I. It integrates speaking practice and linguistic discussion. The students will be able to understand fundamental structures of Kinyarwanda in various areas. Topics include sound and tonal patterns, noun class agreements, verb moods, and sentence structures. Additionally, this course provides important listening and expressive reading skills. It allows the students to discover elements of the Rwandan culture and to participate in elementary conversation about everyday life in Kinyarwanda. This course allows fulfilling the non-Indo-European language requirement.
Fidele Mprianya, Spring

Computational Linguistics
John Goldsmith, Spring


Phonological Analysis I
30101. PQ: Graduate standing or consent of instructor. This course introduces cross-linguistic phonological phenomena and methods of analysis through an in depth examination of fundamental notions that transcend differences between theoretical approaches: contrast, neutralization, natural classes, distinctive features, and basic non-linear phonological processes (e.g., assimilation, harmony, dissimilation).
John Goldsmith, Autumn

Phonological Analysis II
30102. PQ: LING 30101. This course is intended for students with a strong background in phonology. We will explores the major themes of phonological theaory from 1870 to today, focusing on such questions as the distinction between phonolohy and morphophonology, the nature of phonological representations, and the character of hard and soft constraints on phonological representations.
Diane Brentari, Winter

Syntax I
30201. PQ: Graduate student standing. Undergrads with a grade of A in Intro to Syntax may petition the instructor for admission. This course is an advanced survey of topics in graduate syntax examining current syntactic theory through a detailed analysis of a range of phenomena and readings from the primary research literature. Major topics include phrase structure and constituency, argument structure, grammatical relations, case (including ergativity), agreement, voice, and raising vs. control.
Jason Merchant, Autumn

Syntax II
30201. PQ: LING 30201. This course is a continuation of Syntactic Analysis 1. The emphasis will be on A'-movement and ellipsis operations within the framework of Principles and Parameters and the Minimalist Program. Although we will examine different types of movement and ellipsis constructions, as well as their interactions, the objective will be to understand to what extent we can develop a general theory of syntax. The course will have a strong cross-linguistic aspect to it, examining data from Irish, Austronesian languages, Mayan languages, Wolof, Russian, Romance, Germanic, and others. The topics will include wh-movement in questions, relative clauses, comparatives, and other constructions, islands, and other constraings on movement, sentence fragments (sluicing, fragments answers), VP-ellipsis, and gapping.
Jason Merchant, Winter

Semantics and Pragmatics I
30301. This is the first in a two-course sequence designed to provide a foundation in the scientific study of all aspects of linguistic meaning. The first quarter focuses primarily on pragmatics:  those aspects of meaning that arise from the way that speakers put language to use, rather than through the formal properties of the linguistic system itself, which is the domain of semantics. However, a central goal of the course will be to begin to develop an understanding of the relation between pragmatics and semantics, by exploring empirical phenomena in which contextual and conventional aspects of meaning interact in complex but regular and well-defined ways, and by learning analytical techniques that allow us to tease these two aspects of linguistic meaning apart.
Itamar Francez, Autumn

Semantics and Pragmatics II
30302. PQ: LING 30301. This is the second in a two-course sequence designed to provide a foundation in the scientific study of all aspects of linguistic meaning. The second quarter focuses on the syntax-semantics interface. The class will explore in detail how the meaning of complex linguistic expressions is formed compositionally from the meaning of constituent parts, and how semantic and syntactic composition interact.
Chris Kennedy, Spring

Psycholinguistics: Language Processing
Ming Xiang, Autumn

Karlos Arregi, Autumn

Language in Culture - 1
31100.  Among topics discussed in the first half of the sequence are the formal structure of semiotic systems, the ethnographically crucial incorporation of linguistic forms into cultural systems, and the methods for empirical investigation of “functional” semiotic structure and history.
Constantine Nakassis, Autumn

Methods in Gesture and Sign Language Research
Diane Brentari, Autumn

40320. This course covers the theory and methods in language documentation and description, with an emphasis on the role of language endangerment in the field, with discussion and hands-on work involving data collection, annotation, archiving, and presentation of results (including scholarly publications and the production of community-focused materials).  Students will work with a native speaker of a lesser-studied language to conduct an actual digital documentation project.
(This course complements but does not supplement LING 40301/40302 Field Methods.)
Lenore Grenoble, Winter

Topics in Semantics
42200. This seminar explores a range of topics in the syntax/semantics interface, including (a) clause structure and argument structure (including ditransitives, active/passive/middle voice, deponents, and the morphology of the verb); (b) negation, negative polarity, and negative concord; (c) temporal and aspectual morphemes and mood particles; (d) the internal structure of quantifier and noun phrases (QPs, DPs, and NPs): genitives, adjectival modification, definite reduplications, nominalizations, and partitive structures; (e) wh-structures: questions, relative clauses (including free relatives), and comparatives; (f) elliptical structures, and code-switching. The language focus will vary, though we will have as a goal the development of a considerable understanding of these issues in modern Greek in particular, but with attention to Germanic, Romance, Slavic, Albanian, Hungarian, and other languages as participant interest and expertise indicate.
Anastasia Giannakidou and Jason Merchant, Autumn

Seminar in Phonology
Alan Yu, Autumn

Linguistics Pedagogy
Staff, Autumn

Seminar in Historical Linguistics
Yaroslav Gorbachov, Spring