Department of Linguistics


Advisory Committee

Professors Connie Eble (English and Comparative Literature), Evelyne Huber (Political Science), William G. Lycan (Philosophy), Donald Nonini (Anthropology), Patrick O'Neill (English), Paul Roberge, James Thompson (English and Comparative Literature), Silvia Tomásková (Women's and Gender Studies, Anthropology); Associate Professors Misha Becker, David Mora-Marín, Elliott Moreton, Jennifer L. Smith, J. Michael Terry.


Randall Hendrick (11) Syntax, Morphology, Psychology of Language

Paul Roberge (17) Pidgins and Creoles, Historical Linguistics, Germanic Linguistics

Associate Professors

Misha Becker (12) Language Acquisition, Psycholinguistics, Cognitive Science

David Mora-Marín (15) Historical Linguistics, Mayan Linguistics, Linguistic Anthropology

Elliott Moreton (8) Phonetics, Phonology

Jennifer L. Smith (7) Phonology, Phonetics, Japanese

J. Michael Terry (9) Semantics, African American English

Assistant Professor

Katya Pertsova (10) Computational Linguistics, Morphology

Professor Emeritus

H. Craig Melchert

Associated Faculty

Jennifer Arnold (Psychology), Psychology and Psycholinguistics

Uffe Bergeton (Asian Studies), Early Chinese Language, History, and Thought

Lucia Binotti (Romance Studies), Spanish Philology, Cultural Thought, Linguistic Historiography

Connie Eble (English and Comparative Literature), English Linguistics

Bruno Estigarribia (Romance Studies), Spanish Linguistics, Language Development and Cognition

Benjamin E. Frey (American Studies), Cherokee Linguistics, German and Dutch Linguistics, German Language in America

Peter C. Gordon (Psychology), Psychology of Language

Larry D. King (Romance Studies), Spanish and Portuguese Linguistics

William G. Lycan (Philosophy), Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Mind

Patrick O'Neill (English and Comparative Literature), Celtic Languages

Dean Pettit (Philosophy), Philosophy of Language and Mind

Patricia E. Sawin (American Studies), Ethnography of Communication

The Department of Linguistics offers graduate work leading to the degree of master of arts in linguistics.

Degree candidates must demonstrate both a basic knowledge of the field of linguistics as a whole and the ability to do independent study in a chosen specialty. Basic knowledge of linguistics is acquired by taking certain required courses; knowledge of a specialty is gained through elective courses as well as by writing a thesis.

The elective courses are expected to form a coherent program in a subfield of linguistics (e.g., phonology, syntax, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, language acquisition) or in the application of linguistics to a closely related discipline (e.g., anthropology, the study of a particular language or language family). To this end, each student, after consultation with the director of graduate studies, will by the end of the second semester of residence choose a permanent advisor, who will supervise the student's program of study.

Degree programs must satisfy the general requirements of The Graduate School. In addition, the student must fulfill the following curriculum requirements.

Master of Arts

Course Requirements. LING 400 (Introduction to General Linguistics) or approved equivalent, 520 (Linguistic Phonetics), 523 (Phonological Theory I), 530 (Syntactic Theory I), one course from among 525 (Historical Linguistics), 528 (Language Acquisition) and 537 (Semantic Theory I), plus four elective courses in linguistics or related areas, as approved by the student's academic advisor, plus three hours of thesis credit, for a total of 30 hours.

Note: Students are expected to complete their nonelective courses during their first year. This schedule qualifies students to be considered for a linguistics teaching assistantship by their third semester. Deviations from it are therefore strongly discouraged.

Foreign Language Requirement. Reading knowledge of one foreign language. This requirement may be met in one of three ways:

  1. By passing the Graduate Student Foreign Language Test, given each November and April by The Graduate School. For information and registration, go directly to

  2. Where available, by passing the reading courses for graduate students numbered 601 and 602 (these courses do not earn graduate credit). Note: Students with some prior experience may find it feasible to meet the requirement by enrolling directly in and passing 602, bypassing 601.

  3. Where neither option 1 nor option 2 is available, students may arrange to have their competence certified by a qualified faculty member, usually through an informal examination.

Comprehensive Examination. During the semester following completion of the nonelective courses (which should be the fall term of the second year), students will form an examining committee of three faculty members in the department. It is expected that this committee will also serve as the M.A. thesis committee. The student will submit a prospectus of the M.A. thesis, as described below. The oral examination will assess the student's mastery of topics from the first-year sequence of course work and gauge the merits of the prospectus.

Thesis. The master's thesis (normally 50 to 100 pages in length) must be approved by a committee of the thesis director plus two other faculty members at the oral comprehensive exam. Students form their thesis committee with the advice of their academic advisor, who may (but need not) be the thesis director. At the comprehensive oral exam for the M.A., the department requires that students submit a prospectus of the thesis. The prospectus should state clearly what problem is to be investigated, how the investigation is to be carried out (written research, fieldwork, experiment, etc.) and a preliminary bibliography. The prospectus should first be discussed with the thesis director. Students should then submit a 'clean' version to all three committee members and set up a meeting where the prospectus may be informally discussed and approved (perhaps with modifications). Students are also expected to consult their thesis director regularly during the actual writing of the thesis. Formal requirements regarding the format and submission of the M.A. thesis are found in the Thesis and Dissertation Guide (

Final Oral Examination. This exam, administered by the thesis committee, focuses on a defense of the thesis, but the faculty reserves the right to question students on other relevant topics. Students should avoid scheduling a thesis defense during the summer, since faculty members often are not available. If it is absolutely unavoidable, students should consult committee members well in advance.

Important Degree Deadlines. Each year The Graduate School sets deadlines for graduation in a given term (fall, spring, summer). There are two sets of dates to watch out for:

  1. Students wishing to graduate must submit an application to graduate ( These documents must be submitted in advance: typically July for August graduation, February for May graduation, and October for December graduation, but official dates will be posted on the Registrar's calendar ( There is no penalty for failure to complete requirements for a requested graduation date, but one cannot graduate without having submitted the application to graduate. Therefore students should submit it in time for any semester in which they feel they may graduate.

  2. The final electronic version of the thesis must be submitted to The Graduate School before the student can graduate ( The deadline for submission is shortly before graduation; please see the Registrar's calendar for current dates (

Note: The previous Ph.D. program in linguistics (1967–2011) no longer admits new students. Legacy students should consult the Linguistics Department Web site ( for degree requirements.

Courses for Graduate and Advanced Undergraduate Students


400 Introduction to General Linguistics (ANTH 400) (3). An introduction to the scientific study of language. The nature of language structure. How languages are alike and how they differ.

401 Language and Computers (3). Prerequisite, LING 101. Uses simple linguistic problems to introduce students to the use of programming languages especially suited to analyze and process natural language on the computer. No prior programming knowledge is presupposed.

409 Cognitive Linguistics (3). Development of and present state of research in cognitive linguistics. Readings discuss various language phenomena and are drawn from linguistics, psychology, philosophy, artificial intelligence, and literary analysis of metaphor.

428 Bilingualism and Second-Language Acquisition (3). Prerequisite, LING 101. This course covers theoretical issues in childhood simultaneous bilingualism, and child and adult second-language acquisition, under both naturalistic and classroom learning circumstances.

422 Research Methods in Phonetics and Laboratory Phonology (3). Prerequisite, LING 200, 520, 523, or SPHS 540. Focuses on the practical skills required to carry out basic experiments in speech production or perception. Includes training in a general-purpose programming language (such as Perl) for automating repetitive tasks, experiment-control software, audio stimulus manufacture and editing, palatography, aerodynamic measurements, and other laboratory techniques relevant to student interests.

444 Origin and Evolution of Human Language (3). Prerequisite, LING 101. Recommended preparation, at least one higher-level core course in linguistics. Surveys current answers to such questions as, When and how did language first appear? What do other animal communication systems share with language? Do restricted linguistic systems (e.g., pidgins) preserve "fossils" of early human language?

445 Philosophy of Language (PHIL 445) (3). See PHIL 445 for description.

455 Symbolic Logic (PHIL 455) (3). See PHIL 455 for description.

484 Discourse and Dialogue in Ethnographic Research (ANTH 484, FOLK 484) (3). See ANTH 484 for description.

490 Advanced Topics in Linguistics (3). Directed readings on linguistic topics not covered in specific courses.

496 Independent Study in Linguistics (1–3). Permission of the director of undergraduate studies. LING 101 and additional coursework in linguistics strongly recommended. An intensive mentored project; topic to be determined in a learning contract between student and instructor.

506 Greek Dialects (GREK 506) (3). See GREK 506 for description.

520 Linguistic Phonetics (ANTH 520) (3). Introduction to the general principles of linguistic phonetics; anatomy of vocal tract, physiology of speech production, universal phonetic theory. Practice in the recognition and transcription of speech sounds.

522 Experimental Phonetics and Laboratory Phonology (3). Prerequisites, LING 520, and 200 or 523. This course relates linguistic theory to experimental findings. Students design and carry out experiments to test theoretical issues of current theoretical importance.

523 Phonological Theory I (ANTH 523) (3). Prerequisite, LING 520, or SPHS 530 or 540. Permission of the instructor for undergraduates. Introduction to the principles of modern generative phonology. Methods and theory of phonological analysis.

524 Phonological Theory II (3). Prerequisite, LING 200 or 523. Intermediate phonological theory and analysis.

525 Introduction to Historical and Comparative Linguistics (3). Permission of the instructor for undergraduates. Theories and methods of historical and comparative linguistics, with emphasis upon the Indo-European family.

527 Morphology (3). Prerequisite, LING 101 or 400. Cross-linguistic investigation of internal word structure: inflection and derivation, word formation rules versus affixation, autosegmental morphology, morpholexical and morphophonemic rules, and the interaction of morphology with phonology and syntax.

528 Language Acquisition I (3). Permission of the instructor for undergraduates. One course in phonology or syntax recommended. Child language from a theoretical perspective. Topics include segmentation problems, acquisition of phonology, morphology and syntax, lexical acquisition, and language development in blind and deaf children and in bilinguals.

529 Language Acquisition II (3). Prerequisites, LING 203 or 528, and LING 201 or 530. This course focuses on the development of syntax in first-language acquisition in children. Topics will include parameter setting, null subjects, root infinitives, aspect, A-movement, binding theory, and control.

530 Syntactic Theory I (3). Permission of the instructor for undergraduates. Methods and theory of grammatical analysis within the transformational generative framework. Special emphasis on analyzing syntactic and semantic structures of English.

533 Syntactic Theory II (3). Prerequisite, LING 530. Methods and theory of grammatical analysis, with special reference to transformational grammar.

537 Semantic Theory I (3). Prerequisite, LING 101 or 400. Semantics as a part of linguistic theory: co- and disjoint reference among nominals, "crossover" phenomena, quantifier scope, lexical semantics, Montague grammar and compositional semantics, and explanatory universals in semantic theory.

538 Semantic Theory II (3). Prerequisite, LING 537. A continuation of LING 537 (Semantic Theory I), this course prepares the student to read the formal semantic literature and to do original research in the field.

539 Language of Time (3). Prerequisite, LING 101 or 400. The representation of time and temporal relations in natural languages. Cross-linguistic study of tense and aspect distinctions, modality, temporal adverbials, temporal anaphora, and sequences of tenses.

540 Mathematical Linguistics (3). Prerequisite, LING 101. Introduction to topics in logic, set theory, and modern algebra with emphasis on linguistic application. Automata theory and the formal theory of grammar with special reference to transformational grammars. No previous mathematics assumed.

541 Sociolinguistics (ANTH 541) (3). Prerequisite, LING 101 or 400. Introduction to the study of language in relation to society; variation as it correlates with socioeconomic status, region, gender; the social motivation of change; language and equality; language maintenance, planning, shift.

542 Pidgins and Creoles (ANTH 542) (3). Prerequisite, LING 101 or 400. Examination of the social contexts of language contact and their linguistic outcomes, with particular emphasis on the formation of pidgins and creoles. The course investigates the structural properties of these new contact languages and evaluates the conflicting theories that explain their genesis.

543 Language in Politics (3). Examines language as a political issue in the 19th and 20th centuries. Emphasis placed on American and British politics but attention to one other national context as well.

545 Language and Mind: Linguistics and the Brain (3). Prerequisite, ENGL 313, or LING 101 or 400, or PHIL 145. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. The course treats the relationship among linguistics, artificial intelligence, neurobiology, cognitive psychology, and the philosophies of mind, language, and science.

547 Language Deficits and Cognition (3). Prerequisite, LING 101 or 400. Survey of the linguistic properties associated with aphasia, autism, Williams syndrome, dyslexia, and schizophrenia. Emphasis on the implications of these conditions for theories of mind.

550 Introduction to Indo-European: Phonology (3). A survey of the phonological systems of the major Indo-European languages and their development from Proto-Indo-European.

551 Introduction to Indo-European: Morphology (3). Prerequisite, LING 550. Introduction to the major morphological categories in the Indo-European languages and their development from the proto-language.

558 Mesoamerican Writing Systems (3). This course is an introduction to the ancient scripts of pre-Columbian Mexico and Central America. It focuses on the following scripts: Mayan, Epi-Olmec, Zapotec, and Mixtec.

560 Mesoamerican Languages and Linguistics (3). Surveys the basic characteristics that unify Mesoamerica as a cultural and linguistic area (e.g., sound systems, word order, color systems, diffused vocabulary, etc.), the basic sources of cultural and linguistic information available (e.g., ancient hieroglyphs, colonial manuscripts, contemporary documents, linguistic fieldwork), and the consequences of ancient and modern cross-cultural interaction.

561 Native Languages of the Americas (3). Prerequisite, LING 101 or 400. This course explores the phonological and morphological structure of selected Amerindian languages indigenous to the Americas. Emphasis is on the linguistic analysis of original as well as published primary data.

562 Structure of Russian (RUSS 562) (3). Prerequisite, LING 101 or RUSS 102. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. Examines Russian from the perspective of linguistic analysis. How do sounds, words, and sentences pattern in Russian? How do these compare with patterns in other languages? Also considers the influence of evidence from Russian on the development of linguistic theory.

563 Structure of Japanese (JAPN 563) (3). Prerequisite, JAPN 102 or LING 101. Introductory linguistic description of modern Japanese. For students of linguistics with no knowledge of Japanese and students of Japanese with no knowledge of linguistics.

564 History of the French Language (FREN 564) (3). See FREN 564 for description.

565 French Phonetics and Phonology (FREN 565) (3). See FREN 565 for description.

566 Structure of Modern French (FREN 566) (3). See FREN 566 for description.

573 Linguistic Field Methods I (ANTH 793) (3). Analysis and description of a language unknown to the class from data solicited from a native-speaker consultant.

574 Linguistic Field Methods II (ANTH 794) (3). Continuation of LING 573.

583 History and Philosophy of Linguistics (3). Prerequisite, LING 101. Linguistic theories from classical times to the present with special emphasis on the origins of contemporary theories.

613 Modern English Grammar (ENGL 613) (3). See ENGL 613 for description.

678 Cultural and Linguistic History of the Spanish Language (SPAN 678) (3). See SPAN 678 for description.

691H Senior Honors Thesis (3). See the program for honors in the College of Arts and Sciences and the department honors advisor.

692H Senior Honors Thesis (3). See the program for honors in the College of Arts and Sciences and the department honors advisor.

For Irish and Welsh, see English; for Hebrew, see Religious Studies; for Arabic, Chinese and Japanese, see Asian Studies in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Courses for Graduate Students


712 Advanced Studies in Philosophy of Language (PHIL 745) (3).

715 Advanced Methods in Phonology (3). Prerequisite, LING 524. Methods of theoretical argumentation in generative phonology with emphasis on recent proposals in the published literature.

716 Advanced Methods in Syntax (3). Prerequisite, LING 533. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. Examination of recent developments in the theory and methods of syntactic analysis.

723 Seminar in Anthropological Linguistics (ANTH 723) (3). See ANTH 723 for description.

730 Comparative Grammar of Ancient Languages (3). Introductory and advanced work in the earlier stages of extant languages and in extinct languages.

790 Dialectology (ANTH 790) (3). Principles and methods of areal linguistics and social dialectology

793 Linguistic Field Work I (ANTH 793) (3). Analysis and description of a language unknown to the class from data solicited from a native-speaker consultant.

794 Linguistic Field Work II (ANTH 794) (3). Continuation of LING 793.

814 History of the English Language (ENGL 814) (3). Prerequisite, ENGL 719 or permission of the instructor. See ENGL 814 for description.

860 Seminar (3). Topics vary to include specialized areas of linguistics study.

861 Seminar (3). Seminar in phonological theory.

862 Seminar (3). Seminar in grammatical theory.

893 Current Problems in Linguistics (3). This course explores relations of linguistics with neighboring fields and theoretical problems of current relevance within linguistics itself; some attention given to pedagogical methodology.

897 Special Readings (3). Readings in linguistic topics that are not covered in the existing courses.

993 Master's Research and Thesis (3).

994 Doctoral Research and Dissertation (3).

Courses for Graduate and Advanced Undergraduate Students


401 Introduction to Yucatec Mayan (3). Introduction to basic grammar and vocabulary, as well as cultural context and literary genres.