"The marvelous thing is that even in studying Linguistics, we find that the universe as a whole is patterned, ordered, and to some degree intelligible to us." - Kenneth L. Pike
Linguistics is the scientific study of language and its structure, including the study of language patterns, rules of sentence structure, speech sounds and transmission, how we hear words, and the different interpretations of the meanings we attach to those words. It describes how different languages build sounds and words and sentences.
Language is a complex, species-specific system made up of several components (sound, sentence structure, and meaning). The study of linguistics gives us a unique window on the structure of the human mind and the mind's activity. Further, there are many real world applications of linguistics (e.g., natural language technologies). Additional information can be found at the Linguistic Society of America.
Linguistics majors pursue careers in many different fields such as:
Some students use the BA in Linguistics to prepare for professional schools, or clinical programs in:
Other students continue their study of Linguistics in MA and Ph.D. programs, either in Linguistics or related fields like:
Linguistics students will develop critical, scientific thinking skills through learning across several core subfields in linguistic science. Through course work, students will gain a solid understanding of scientific approaches to the study of language: students will be able to understand scientific arguments; construct arguments; identify regularities and patterns in language; use a variety of linguistic data to test hypotheses. Courses in the linguistics program are designed to present students with information about the main subfields in linguistic science (Morphology, Phonetic, Phonology, Pragmatics, Semantics, and Syntax). Once presented with this information, students will be able to utilize this knowledge to understand, construct and verify arguments (hypotheses and evidence) in each subfield. Specific training in linguistics courses includes how to test theories using empirical methodologies (designing and conducting experiments, looking for naturally occurring linguistic data to verify hypotheses etc.).Exposure to a scientific approach to language will help students develop critical thinking skills. Students will learn to be soundly skeptical about scientific theories. They will see and learn how to construct arguments for or against these theories. Once students learn scientific and critical thinking in linguistics, they will have a chance to put their experience into practice. For example, students in the linguistic program have the opportunity to get involved in research projects led by faculty members.
Our department offers first-year seminars that cover various topics in linguistics.
There are three 200-level courses that together serve as the introduction to the study of the core components of human language: sound, grammar and meaning.
Introductory (3 units):
9 courses at the 300-level or beyond. These 9 courses must include 3 of the following:
Only 1 of the 9 advanced courses may be 398/399, and certain exceptions may be granted (e.g. CogSci 210) in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
4 related courses. Decisions as to which courses count towards this requirement are generally made on a case-by-case basis. The list of courses related to linguistics on this site offers some guidance, but students must discuss their options in the context of their individual course of study with the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
The Director of Undergraduate Studies can review and sign your graduation petition, which you should complete one year prior to your expected graduation.
If you plan to study abroad and need a department signature on your Study Abroad application, you should set up a meeting with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. For more information contact the Study Abroad Office.
Requirement Substitutions: The Director of Undergraduate Studies is the only faculty member who can:
If you have any questions, contact the Department of Linguistics at 847-467-3384. Or feel free to stop by the main office of the Linguistics Department at 2016 Sheridan Road.
Cognitive Science Dialogue
October 28, 2014 • 4:15 PM - 5:30 PM
Wednesdays@NICO: Turning Assistive Machines into Assistive Robots
October 29, 2014 • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Cognitive Science Talk: Dr. Andrei Cimpian
November 4, 2014 • 4:15 PM - 5:30 PM
Wednesdays@NICO: Dylan Walker, Assistant Professor Informations Systems, Boston University
November 5, 2014 • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM