Linguistics is the study of language, the medium which allows us to communicate and share our ideas with others. As a discipline, linguistics examines the structural components of sound, form, and meaning, and the precise interplay between them. Modern linguistic inquiry stresses analytical and argumentation skills, which will prepare students for future pursuits in any field where such skills are essential.
Linguistics is also relevant to other disciplines, such as psychology, philosophy, sociology, and anthropology.
The primary goals of the linguistics minor are: To introduce students to the field of linguistics proper through a series of foundation courses in linguistics theory and methodology; to provide training in the application of certain theoretical and methodological tools to the analysis of linguistic data; and to offer an array of interdisciplinary courses that allow students to explore other related fields that best suit their interests.
Professor of Psychology Marilyn Boltz
Professor of Philosophy Ashok Gangadean
Professor of Computer Science at Bryn Mawr Deepak Kumar
T. Wistar Brown Professor of Philosophy Danielle Macbeth
Professor of Linguistics at Swarthmore Donna Jo Napoli
Professor of Philosophy at Bryn Mawr George Weaver
Associate Professor of Linguistics at Swarthmore Theodore Fernald, Chair
C.V. Starr Professor of Asian Studies and Associate Professor of East Asian Studies and Linguistics
Shizhe Huang, coordinator
Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Swarthmore K. David Harrison
Assistant Professor of Spanish Ana López-Sánchez
Visiting Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore Jason Kandybowicz
Students may major in linguistics through the Linguistics department at Swarthmore College (http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/Linguistics). Contact the department for more details.
Students may minor in linguistics by completing six credits in the following three areas of study:
- LINGH 113h Introduction to Syntax HU
(or Swarthmore LING 050)
This course will provide an introduction to the investigation of sentence structures in human language. Students will be led to discover for themselves the insights into this field that linguists have gained in the past 40 years. The class will develop an increasingly complex theory starting with some basic assumptions about language and then seeing where the assumptions lead. In the process, students will not only come to a clearer understanding of how grammar works, they will also develop and refine skills of analysis, writing, and argumentation. We will focus mainly on English, since everybody in class speaks it. Occasionally, we will look at other languages to get a sense of the ways in which human languages are similar to each other and how they are different.
- LINGH 114b Introduction to Semantics HU
(or Swarthmore Linguistics 040)
This course is an introduction to semantics, the study of meaning in human language. We will explore semantic issues that arise from the lexicon, the sentences, and the discourse. Along the way, we will investigate not only the semantic structure of natural language but also pragmatic factors that affect our interpretation of the use of language. This is a participation-intensive course. In the process, students will not only learn the basic semantic theory but will also develop skills in observing linguistic patterns and analyzing these patterns in order to come to some generalizations on their own.
- LINGH 245b Phonetics and Phonology HU
This course investigates the sound patterns found in human languages. Phonetics is the study of these patterns from a physical and perceptual perspective while phonology is the study of sound patterns from a cognitive perspective. Activities in the class will expose students to the methodologies used by both perspectives (articulatory description and acoustic analysis for phonetics and formal theoretical models for phonology) and show the necessity and utility of both approaches in understanding the nature of sound patterns in human language.
- LINGH 282 Structure of Chinese SO (Cross-listed in East Asian Studies.)
This course is designed to provide an overview of the historical development of the Chinese language and its structures in terms of phonetics/phonology, syntax and semantics. The goal is to help students look at Chinese from both a historical and a theoretical perspective. Students from Linguistics will have an opportunity to enrich and broaden their understanding of linguistic theories and methodologies, and to develop skills in analyzing a non-Indo-European language, while students who have completed at least Second-year Chinese will be exposed to systematic analyses of the language to learn the general patterns. Prerequisites: At least two of the following three: Introduction to Syntax, Introduction to Semantics, Second-year Chinese or above. Or consent of the instructor.
- LING 060 (Swarthmore) Structure of Navajo SO
An examination of the major phonological, morphological, syntactic, and semantic structures in a non-Indo-European language. We will also consider the history of the language and its cultural context. Prerequisite: At least two out of Linguistics 001, 030, 040, 043, 045, and 050.
- LING 062. (Swarthmore) Structure of American Sign Language SO
In this course, we look at the linguistic structures of ASL: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and history. We also discuss issues of culture, literacy, and politics pertinent to people with hearing loss. All students are required to participate in a rudimentary introduction to ASL for an additional 0.5 credit. Sign up for LING 062A. All students are welcome to do a community-service project in LING 095. (Writing course. ) Prerequisites: LING 050 and 045 or 052 or permission of the instructor.
- LING 064. (Swarthmore) Structure of Tuvan SO
Tuvan belongs to the Turkic branch of the Altaic language family and is spoken in Siberia and Mongolia by nomadic herders. It has classically agglutinating morphology and curious phenomena such as vowel harmony, converbs, and switch reference. It has rich sound symbolism, a tradition of oral (unwritten) epic tales, riddles, and world-famous song genres (“throat singing”). We will investigate the sounds, structures, oral traditions, and ethnography of Tuvan, using both printed and digital media. Prerequisites: LING 050 and 045 or 052 or permission of the instructor.
- LINGH 382 Syntax and Semantics of Mandarin Chinese HU
An examination of some of the core issues in the study of Mandarin Chinese in terms of its syntactic and semantic structures. The aim is to look at a rich array of data as analyzed by practicing theoreticians and appreciate the inner workings of the language and their theoretical implications. Along the way students learn to make mid-level generalizations and hone their analytical skills. Cross-listed in East Asian Studies. (This course will satisfy the “Structure of X” requirement in years when no other such courses are offered in Tri-co. Offered every other year.) Prerequisites: Introduction to Syntax, and Introduction to Semantics. LING282 Structure of Chinese is desirable but not required. Sophomore standing or above.
c. Elective Courses (choose two):
- PHILB 103 Introduction to Logic HU
Training in reading and writing proof discourses (i.e., those segments of writing or speech that express deductive reasoning) to gain insight into the nature of logic, the relationship between logic and linguistics, and the place of logic in the theory of knowledge.
- PHILB203 Formal Semantics HU
A study of the adequacy of first order logic as
a component of a theory of linguistic analysis. Grammatical, semantic, and proof theoretic inadequacies of first order logics are examined and various ways of enriching these logics to provide more adequate theories are developed, with special attention to various types of linguistic presuppositions, analyticity, selection restrictions, the question-answer relation, ambiguity, and paraphrase. Prerequisite: Philosophy 103.
- LINGB239 Introduction to Linguistics HU
An introductory survey of linguistics as a field. This course examines the core areas of linguistic structure (morphology, phonology, syntax, semantics), pragmatics, and language variation in relation to language change. The course provides rudimentary training in the analysis of language data, and focuses on the variety of human language structures and on the question of universal properties of language. (Another section is offered under General Studies at Bryn Mawr by J. Kandybowicz.)
- PSYCH 238 The Psychology of Language SO
An interdisciplinary examination of linguistic theory, language evolution, and the psychological processes involved in using language. Topics include: speech perception and production, processes of comprehension, language and the brain, language learning, language and thought, linguistic diversity, and nonverbal communication. Prerequisite: Psychology 104 or consent of instructor.
- LINGH 242a Chinese Language in Culture and Society HU
(Cross-listed in East Asian Studies)
An examination of the use and function of the Chinese language in culture and society, both within mainland China and in the Chinese diaspora. Topics include: language standardization, language planning, language and dialects, language and ethnicity, language and politics, and linguistic construction of self and community. Offered occasionally.
- PHILH 253 Analytic Philosophy of Language HU
A close study of seminal essays by Frege, Russell, Kripke, Quine, Davidson, and others focusing on questions of meaning, reference, and truth. An overarching aim of the course is to understand how one can approach fundamental issues in philosophy through a critical reflection on how language works. Prerequisite: One 100-level philosophy course or permission of instructor.
- PHILH 260 Historical Introduction to Logic HU
An introduction to various systems of logic, (e.g., term logic, propositional logic, and quantificational logic) through study of their historical roots in Aristotle, Kant, Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein. Both the systems themselves and their wider philosophical significance will be explored. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or permission of instructor.
- CMSC B325 Computational Linguistics
Introduction to computational models of understanding and processing human languages. How elements of linguistics, computer science, and artificial intelligence can be combined to help computers process human language and to help linguists understand language through computer models. Topics covered: syntax, semantics, pragmatics, generation and knowledge representation techniques. Prerequisite: some background in linguistics or computer science.
- LINGH365 The Politics of Language in the Spanish-Speaking World
The course will explore the relationship between (national) identity and language, and the specific outcomes of (language) policies and educational practices in societies where Spanish is spoken, generally alongside other mother tongues, often as the dominant language, but also in a minority situation. Cross-listed in Spanish
Prerequisite: A 200 level or consent of instructor
Enrollment limited to 18 students
- All linguistics courses offered at Swarthmore College will be accepted for credits for various categories. Below is a sample of linguistics courses currently offered at Swarthmore College:
a. Mandatory Foundation Courses (three credits):
b. Synthesis Courses (choose one):
LING 001 Introduction to Language and Linguistics
LING 006 FYS: Language and Deafness
LING 020 Natural Language Processing
LING 024 Discourse Analysis
LING 040 Semantics
LING 045 Phonology
LING 050 Syntax
LING 055 Writing Systems, Decipherment and Cryptography
LING 070R Translation Workshop
LING 094 Special Project in Linguistics
LING 100 Research Seminar
LING 195 Senior Honors Thesis