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 prepares students for future pursuits in any field in which such skills are essential. Linguistics is also relevant to other disciplines, such as psychology, philosophy, mathematics, computer science, sociology and anthropology, and some of our students choose to double major with one of them.
- Examine the structural components of sound, form, and meaning, and the precise interplay between them.
- Interact with the field of linguistics through a series of foundation courses in linguistics theory and methodology.
- Hone analytical and argumentation skills, and prepare for future pursuits in any field to which such skills are essential, including psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, mathematics, computer science, computational linguistics, sociology, and anthropology.
- Apply theoretical and methodological tools to the analysis of linguistic data, particularly in forming and testing hypotheses, and arrive at conclusions that the data and arguments support.
- Understand how language influences the way we interact with each other and with the larger world around us.
- Investigate how people acquire their knowledge about language, how this knowledge interacts with other cognitive processes and how it varies across speakers and geographic regions.
- 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 S026 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.)
- All Bi-Co linguistics majors should register for LINGH399 in the fall of their senior year and complete a one-credit senior thesis by the end of the fall semester. (Seniors will be assigned different faculty advisors once they choose a thesis topic during the first two weeks, and they may then switch to the appropriate senior seminar sections if necessary.) The thesis constitutes the comprehensive requirement.
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 samples of relevant courses):
- LING B101 or LING H101 (Introduction to Linguistics)
- LING/ENGL H213 (Inventing [the] English)
- LING/PSYC H238 (The Psychology of Language)
- LING/PHIL H253 (Analytic Philosophy of Language)
- LING/PHIL H260 (Historical Introduction to Logic)
- 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.
The senior thesis in linguistics is the culmination of a student's four-year program of study; theses are completed during the fall term of the senior year.
We recommend that majors take the Junior Seminar (LING S090, Advanced Research Methods in Linguistics) in the spring term of their junior year. This course is designed to expose students to the classic literature on the major subfields in linguistics, familiarizing them to the theoretical frameworks, methodologies, and bibliographies, culminating in the selection of a potential topic, working and reworking on a thesis abstract with references.
In the senior year, majors are encouraged to take an upper level seminar course in the subfield where they will most likely choose a thesis topic. Students will also enroll in Senior Thesis Seminar, either at Haverford or Swarthmore depending on their research topic. Thesis writers work closely with their advisors during the writing process.
A detailed description of the format, goals, and assessment criteria for the senior experience can be found in the complete departmental statement in the Catalog (PDF).
Requirements for Honors
Honors will be granted, at the discretion of the faculty members, to those senior majors who have consistently distinguished themselves in major-related course work (typically with a GPA of 3.7 or higher), active and constructive participation in the intellectual life of the department, and an outstanding senior thesis. A senior major may receive high honors if deemed exceptional in all three areas.
Majors in the Linguistics Department can receive up to two elective credits for pre-approved courses taken at departments on the College’s list of study abroad programs. Interested students should seek consultation with, and approval from, the Bi-Co chair of the department prior to studying abroad, and be ready to provide course descriptions during consultation and transcripts afterwards for proper credit counting towards the major.