Courses

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

To learn more about the languages offered by the Linguistics department, please click here.

 

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.
Betsy Pillion, Ross Burkholder, Autumn
Jeff Geiger, Anqi Zhang, Winter
Jeff Geiger, Betsy Pillion, 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).
Jason Riggle, 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.
Michelle Yuan, Spring

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.
Julian Grove, Yenan Sun, Winter

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.
Cherry Meyer, Autumn

Grammatical Gender
25200. Grammatical gender is the assignment of nouns into categories and agreement between a noun's category and certain associated elements in the clause. This course serves as an introduction to gender as it occurs across the world's languages. While many are familiar with grammatical gender from the use of pronouns in English or studies of Indo-European languages such as French or German, students in this course work with language data from a wide variety of language families to better grasp both the variety and regularity of this linguistic phenomenon. Topics include but are not limited to determination of the number of gender categories, semantic and formal assignment, the treatment of epicene nouns, as well as psycholinguistic and cultural considerations.
Cherry Meyer, Winter

Language in Society
26002.  PQ:  LING 20001.  This course is an introduction to sociolinguistics, the study of language in its social context. We will look at variation at all levels of language and how this variation constructs and is constructed by identity and culture, including relationships between language and social class, language and gender, and language and ethnicity. We will also discuss language attitudes and ideologies, as well as some of the educational, political, and social repercussions of language variation and standardization.
Sharese King, Spring

Truth
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, Autumn

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

Psycholinguistics
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.
Jeff Geiger, Autumn

Verbal Art
27170. Description TBA.
Natalia Bermúdez, Spring

Linguistic Politics: Language Revitalization 
27430. Description TBA.
Susan Gal, Spring

Linguistic Minorities & Language Rights in Latin America
27480. Description TBA.
Adam Singerman, Spring

Undergraduate Field Methods
28750.  PQ:  LING 20001.  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.
Jessica Kantarovich, Winter


BOTH

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

History of the Greek Lanugage
21420/31420 (=GREK 25615/35615).  Greek is one of the oldest continuously written languages: we have testimonies of it across three millennia. This course will review the various stages of this language from its first written texts (Mycenaean Greek) to Medieval and Modern Greek, including the Greek dialects, the rise of the Koiné, Biblical Greek, and the contact of Greek with other languages through history. We will read and discuss texts from all phases, including literary texts, epigraphy, papyri and medieval manuscripts. Two years previous study of Greek is a requirement for enrolment.
Sofia Torallas-Tovar, Autumn

Introduction to Language Development
21600/31600.  Description TBD.
Susan Goldin-Meadow, Winter

Invented Languages
21610.  Description TBD.
Yaroslav Gorbachov, Winter

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

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, Autumn.

Topics in Semantics and Pragmatics
23200/33200.  Description TBD.
Chris Kennedy, Spring

Languages of the World
23900/33900. Description TBD.
Anqi Zhang, Spring

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

Algonquian Morphosyntax
25360/45000. PQ: LING 20001.  A survey of linguistic phenomena typical of the Algonquian family of languages, including animacy-based gender, obviation, inverse verbs, deixis, noun incorporation, complex predicates, discontinuous constituents, separable preverbs, discourse conditions on word order, and templatic inflectional morphology.  This course satisfies the non-Indo European requirement for undergraduate Linguistics major.
Amy Dahlstrom, Spring

Contact Linguistics
26310/36310 (= SLAV 20600/30600). PQ: LING 20001 or consent of instructor.  This seminar focuses on current research in contact linguistics in a global perspective, including but not limited to the impact of languages of wider communication (e.g. English, Russian) in contact with other languages. Topics to be covered include the following: language/dialect contact, convergence and language shift resulting in attrition and language endangerment and loss. Other contact-induced linguistic changes and processes to be considered include borrowing, code-switching, code-shifting, diglossia, loss of linguistic restrictions and grammatical permeability, and the impact of language contact in the emergence and/or historical development of languages.
Salikoko Mufwene, Spring

Battle in the Mind Fields
26550/36555.  Description TBA.
John Goldsmith, Autumn

Programming for Linguistics
26601/36601.  Description TBA.
Jason Riggle, Winter

Structure of Hungarian
28310/38310.  This course studies the structure of Hungarian, a non-Indo-European language spoken in the heart of Europe. The course objectives are for students (a) to learn about the major grammatical properties of Hungarian and (b) to see the ways that Hungarian has come to shape the development of contemporary linguistic theory. We will begin the quarter by discussing vowel harmony and other salient properties of the language's phonology, and will then move on to morphological questions (such as object agreement in verbal inflection) and syntactic ones (such as the interaction between word order and topic/focus). The final two weeks of the quarter will be reserved for discussion of topics of interest to the students, such as quantification or historical change. This course satisfies the non-Indo-European language requirement for Linguistics majors and Linguistics graduate students. Undergraduates should have taken Introduction to Linguistics and, if possible, one of the following: Introduction to Phonology, Introduction to Syntax, or Morphology.
Adam Singerman, Autumn

A Linguistic Introduction to Swahili I
28355/38355.  Spoken in ten countries of Eastern and Central Africa, Swahili has more speakers than any other language in the Bantu family, a group of more than 400 languages most prevalent in sub-equatorial Africa. Based on Swahili Grammar and Workbook, this course helps the students master key areas of the Swahili language in a fast yet enjoyable pace. Topics include sound and intonation patterns, noun class agreements, verb moods, and sentence structures. Additionally, this course provides important listening and expressive reading skills. For advanced students, historical interpretations are offered for exceptional patterns observed in Swahili, in relation with other Bantu languages. This is a general introduction course with no specific prerequisites.                    Fidele Mpiranya, Winter

Linguistic Introduction to Swahili II
LING 28356/38356.  Based on Swahili Grammar and Workbook, this course is a continuation of Linguistic Introduction to Swahili I. It addresses complex issues related to grammatical agreement, verb moods, noun and verb derivation, non-typical adjectives and adverbs, double object constructions, subordinate/coordinated clause constructions, and dialectal variation. Additionally, this course provides important listening and expressive reading skills. For advanced students, historical interpretations are offered for exceptional patterns observed in Swahili, in relation with other Bantu languages.
Fidele Mpiranya, Spring

African Languages
28370/38370. Description TBA.
Fidele Mpiranya, Autumn

Computational Linguistics
28600/38600 (= CMSC 25020/35050). This is a course in the Computer Science department, intended for upper-level undergraduates, or graduate students, who have good programming skills. There will be weekly programming assignments in Python.  We will look at several current topics in natural language processing, and discuss both the theoretical basis for the work and engaging in hands-on practical experiments with linguistic corpora.  In line with most current work, our emphasis will be on systems that draw conclusions from training data rather than relying on the encoding of generalizations obtained by humans studying the data. As a consequence of that, in part, we will make an effort not to focus on English, but to look at a range of human languages in our treatments.
John Goldsmith, Spring

Language and Ideology
28810/38810.  Description TBA.
Anastasia Giannakidou, Spring

GRAD

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).
Alan Yu, 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

Syntactic Analysis I
30201. PQ: Graduate student standing. Undergraduates with a grade of A or 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 detailed analysis of a range of phenomena and readings from the primary research literature.
Erik Zyman, Autumn

Syntactic Analysis II
30202. PQ: LING 30201. This course is a continuation of Syntactic Analysis I. The primary focus of this course will be A’-movement, as a lens into the syntax-semantics and syntax-phonology interfaces. We will discuss reconstruction, crossover, successive cyclicity, and copy spell-out. Beyond A’-movement, the course will also examine other topics in syntax, such as ergativity, ellipsis, and clausal embedding.
Michelle Yuan, 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.
Anastasia Giannakidou, Winter

Psycholinguistics: Language Processing
30401.  Description TBA.
Ming Xiang, Winter

Morphology
31000. (=ANTH 37500). 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.
Karlos Arregi, Spring

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.
Christopher Ball, Autumn

Language in Culture II
31200.  (=ANTH 37202, PSYC 47002).  The second half of the sequence takes up basic concepts in sociolinguistics and their critique. 
Michael Silverstein, Winter

Field Methods I & II
40301 & 40302.  The field methods course is a two-quarter course, taken by graduate students and advanced undergraduates. (Students may elect to take the course more than once.) This course is devoted to the elicitation, transcription, organization, and analysis of linguistic data from a native speaker of a language not commonly studied. Students will also gain practical experience in the use of fieldwork equipment. Language chosen may vary from year to year.                                                                                                                                           Amy Dahlstrom, Winter and Spring

Experimental Methods
40310. This course will provide training on experimental design, data collection and analysis. We will go through a range of experimental paradigms, and students will acquire hands on experience through a course project. This class will set the ground for students to explore more advanced experimental methods in the future.
Ming Xiang, Autumn

Genetic and Evolutionary Linguistics
41930. Description TBA.
Salikoko Mufwene & Gorbachov Yaroslav, Winter

Seminar: North American Indigenous Languages and Syntactic Theory
46000. This course is an advanced graduate seminar on syntax. With an areal focus on indigenous languages spoken in North and Central America, we will explore how work on lesser-studied languages has deepened our understanding of syntactic theory. We will examine data from a wide range of languages/language families, including Eskimo-Aleut, Mayan, Na-Dene, and Algonquian. Topics will include long-distance phenomena, ergativity, pied-piping, and determiners and pronouns. The seminar will also highlight existing collaborations between language communities and theoretical linguists.
Michelle Yuan, Autumn

Linguistics Pedagogy: Proseminar
47800.  Topics and description TBA.
Staff, Autumn, Winter, Spring

Research Seminar
47900.  Topics and description TBA.
Karlos Arregi, Autumn, Winter

Psycholinguistics Seminar
50510.  Topics and description TBA.
Ming Xiang, Spring

Phonology Seminar
52400.  Topics and description TBA.
Diane Brentari, Autumn

Seminar: Introductions to Linguistic Anthropology
57724.  Topics and description TBA.
Michael Silverstein, Autumn

Seminar: Narrativity
57725.  Topics and description TBA.
Susan Gal, Winter