Linguistics Major and Minor
The Tri-co (Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore) linguistics program brings together students and faculty interested in the scientific study of human language. Drawing on a broad range of faculty from three institutions, our program examines the structural components of sound, form, and meaning and the interplay between them. We are committed to giving our majors a strong foundation in the field and opportunities to explore its interdisciplinary aspects and promise in connection with areas such as psychology, philosophy, mathematics, computer science, sociology, and anthropology. The breadth of academic resources we offer is complemented by our strong emphasis on close student/faculty relationships; our dedication to both is one of the program’s most distinctive attributes.
Curriculum & Courses
We offer two majors: a Linguistics major and a Linguistics and Language major. The Linguistics and Language major requires students to study two languages in addition to their linguistics work.
Students in both majors pursue a curriculum that includes foundation courses, synthesis courses, and elective courses. Designed to provide a grounding in linguistics theory and methodology, foundation courses cover sounds, forms, and meanings. In our synthesis courses, majors examine the structure of a non-Indo-European language, putting the analytical tools they’ve learned to use in classes such as Structure of Chinese, Structure of Colonial Valley Zapotec, and Structure of American Sign Language. Through elective courses, majors explore linguistics in more detail and as it intersects with other areas. Computational Linguistics, The Psychology of Language, and The Politics of Language in the Spanish-Speaking World are just a few of the cross-disciplinary classes available.
Students majoring in Linguistics and Language must also study two distinct languages at the intermediate/upper levels.
- One course from each of the following categories:
- Sounds: LING H115 at Haverford (HC) or LING S045 at Swarthmore (SC)
- Forms: LING H113 at HC or LING S050 at SC
- Meanings: LING H114 at HC or LING S040 or 026 at SC
- One course from the Structure of a Non-Indo-European Language series, typically LING H215, or LING H282 at HC, or LING S061, S062, S064 at SC.
- Three elective courses in linguistics or related fields. (For Linguistics and Language majors, instead of electives, they must study two different languages with three credits from each, with at least one credit at the Third-Year level for each of the two languages.)
- A one-credit senior thesis in the fall semester of the senior year. The thesis constitutes the comprehensive requirement for the major.
- One course from each of the following categories:
Students may minor in linguistics through Haverford by completing six credits in the following three areas:
Mandatory Foundation Courses (three credits)
- LING H113 or LING S050 (Introduction to Syntax)
- LING H114 or LING S040 (Introduction to Semantics)
- LING H115 or LING S045 (Phonetics and Phonology)
Structure of a Non-Indo-European Language Courses (choose one from the following samples of relevant courses)
- LING H215 (Structure of Colonial Valley Zapotec)
- LING H282 (Structure of Chinese)
- LING S060 (Structure of Navajo)
- LING S062 (Structure of American Sign Language)
- LING S064 (Structure of Tuvan)
Elective Courses (choose two from the following sample of relevant courses among many others):
- LING B101 or LING H101 (Introduction to Linguistics)
- LING H104 Topics in Introductory Programming: Language and Computation
- CMSC/LING H208 Speech Synthesis and Recognition
- LING/ENGL H213 (Inventing [the] English)
- LING/PSYC H238 (The Psychology of Language)
- PHIL H253 (Analytic Philosophy of Language)
- LING/ANTH B281 (Language in the Social Context)
- LING/CMSC H308 (Computational Linguistics)
- LING/SPAN H365 (The Politics of Language in the Spanish-Speaking World)
The department accepts all linguistics courses offered at Swarthmore for minor credits for the appropriate categories.
Research & Outreach
All majors produce a thesis—a work of original research—over the fall semester of their senior year. Students select their topic at the beginning of the fall semester, then are assigned to a particular faculty advisor and Thesis Seminar, held at Swarthmore or Haverford. In the Seminar, majors hone their research and writing skills, while working one-on-one with their advisors to develop their theses.
This introduction to the methodologies used in the automated recognition and synthesis of human speech (used for such technologies as Siri and Amazon Echo) is cross-listed in the computer science and linguistics departments.
The linguistics major discusses her senior thesis, which looks at language revitalization practices in the U.S., focusing on three indigenous languages: Navajo, Hawaiian, and Wukchumni.
The linguistics major is working with Assistant Professor Brook Lillehaugen to create an archive of the written Colonial Valley Zapotec language, which is now extinct but is also related to over 50 dialects still spoken today.
Because our majors are interested not only in language but also the human mind, they go on to pursue a wide range of interests and fields.
Lawson founded Trash Free Maryland, a nonprofit that creates long-term solutions to trash pollution through policy and behavior change.
Starace sought out an organization that furthered a cause she believed in and a position in which she could use her strengths in relationship-building, organization, and attention to detail.
Ryan works as an editor for The Motley Fool, a multimedia financial services company.
Tjing is working in the investement advisory and trust division of a private bank.
The linguistics and economics double major began a career in economic analysis at Moody’s Analytics.
Check out our other academic offerings: