Courses

Course offerings for the current semester are listed below. For more details on each of these courses, view the Yale Course Search. For a full listing of our past and regularly offered courses, see the Yale College Programs of Study.

Course Type: Introductory courses

Ling 104: Indigenous Languages of North America

This course explores the indigenous languages of North America, including their histories, linguistic properties, cultural settings, and the key social issues facing them in the 21st century.

North American indigenous languages show remarkable diversity in sound, structure, and social context, and each embodies a unique view of what it means to be human. Many different linguistic aspects of North American languages will be discussed, including the sound systems; person, number, gender and classification; the expression of time and space; and specialized grammatical phenomena like polysynthesis and reduplication. Social contexts of language will include performance, speech games, language change, language endangerment, and government policies. 

Students will investigate and report on patterns and phenomena in a specific language, culminating in a final project and presentation that summarizes their research over the term. More generally, they will become familiar with basic concepts for studying human languages, appreciate the great diversity of indigenous languages in North America, talk with people who speak and study these languages, learn why and how these languages are endangered, and discover how indigenous communities are working to keep their languages alive.

Professor: James Crippen
Course Type: Introductory courses
Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Monday & Wednesday, 2:30p.m. - 3:45p.m.

Ling 106: Illusions of language

Introduction to linguistics, with special emphasis on sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics. Study of grammatical illusions: expressions the parser mistakenly accepts as grammatical despite making little sense and grammatical sentences which the parser has difficulty processing. Emphasis also on illusions and misconceptions about language, such as the belief that women speak more than men, that “vocal fry” can harm your voice, and that double negation is illogical.

Professor: Hadas Kotek
Course Type: Introductory courses
Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 2:30p.m. - 3:45p.m.

Ling 116: Cognitive Science of Language

The study of language from the perspective of cognitive science. Exploration of mental structures that underlie the human ability to learn and process language, drawing on studies of normal and atypical language development and processing, brain imaging, neuropsychology, and computational modeling. Innate linguistic structure vs. determination by experience and culture; the relation between linguistic and nonlinguistic cognition in the domains of decision making, social cognition, and musical cognition; the degree to which language shapes perceptions of color, number, space, and gender.

Professor: Robert Frank
Course Type: Introductory courses
Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Monday & Wednesday 2:30p.m. - 3:45p.m.
Course Type: Intermediate courses

Ling 200/600: Experimentation in Linguistics

Principles and techniques of experimental design and research in linguistics. Linguistic theory as the basis for framing experimental questions. The development of theoretically informed hypotheses, notions of control and confounds, human subject research, statistical analysis, data reporting, and dissemination.

Prerequisite: LING 110117220CGSC 110, or PSYC 110, or permission of instructor.

Professor: Maria Piñango, Professor: Jason Shaw
Course Type: Intermediate courses
Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Thursday, 9:25a.m. - 11:15a.m.

Ling 211/611: Grammatical Diversity in U.S. English

Language as a system of mental rules, governing the sound, form, and meaning system. The (impossible) distinction between language and dialect. The scientific study of standard and non-standard varieties. Social attitudes toward prestige and other varieties; linguistic prejudice. Focus on morpho-syntactic variation in North-American English: alternative passives (“The car needs washed”), personal datives (“I need me a new printer”), negative inversion (“Don’t nobody want to ride the bus”), “drama SO” (“I am SO not going to study tonight”). 

Course Type: Intermediate courses
Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 11:35a.m. - 12:50p.m.

Ling 213/613: Hybrid Grammars: Dynamics of Language Contact, Acquisition, and Change

Traditional approaches to language acquisition and change have typically assumed that children develop a mental grammar that replicates uniformly the linguistic knowledge of the current members of their monolingual speech communities. Therefore, language change must result from external factors: language contact involving a cohort of L2-learners. Likewise, multilingualism, thus language contact, is commonly assumed to hinder acquisition, and presupposed ‘intense’ contact situations are regarded as propitious for creolization. This course proposes a shift of perspective, focusing on multiple-varieties ecologies such as creole societies in which speakers-listeners can acquire, alternate between, and sometimes ‘mix’ different languages, dialects, or registers. Two major questions are addressed in this course: How does acquisition proceed in such multiple-varieties ecologies? and What does a theory of the multilingual mind tell us about acquisition of L1 and the emergence of grammars?

Familiarity with syntax and linguistic variation is assumed. 

Course Type: Intermediate courses
Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 1:00p.m. - 2:15p.m.

Ling 220/620: General Phonetics

Investigation of possible ways to describe the speech sounds of human languages. Acoustics and physiology of speech; computer synthesis of speech; practical exercises in producing and transcribing sounds.

Professor: Jason Shaw
Course Type: Intermediate courses
Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 2:30p.m. - 3:45p.m.

Ling 231/631: Neurolinguistics

The study of language as a cognitive neuroscience. The interaction between linguistic theory and neurological evidence from brain damage, degenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease), mental illness (e.g., schizophrenia), neuroimaging, and neurophysiology. The connection of language as a neurocognitive system to other systems such as memory and music.

Professor: Maria Piñango
Course Type: Intermediate courses
Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Monday & Wednesday, 2:30p.m. - 3:45p.m.

Ling 235/635: Phonological Theory

Topics in the architecture of a theory of sound structure. Motivations for replacing a system of ordered rules with a system of ranked constraints. Optimality theory: universals, violability, constraint types and their interactions. Interaction of phonology and morphology, as well as the relationship of phonological theory to language acquisition and learnability. Opacity, lexical phonology, and serial versions of optimality theory.

Professor: Natalie Weber
Course Type: Intermediate courses
Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Monday & Wednesday, 11:35a.m. - 12:50p.m.

Ling 241/641: Field Methods

Principles of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics applied to the collection and interpretation of novel linguistic data. Data are collected and analyzed by the class as a group, working directly with a speaker of a relatively undocumented language.

Open to majors and graduate students in Linguistics, and to others with permission of instructor. Students should have taken LING 232 or LING 220 and one other linguistics class.

Professor: Claire Bowern
Course Type: Intermediate courses
Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Monday & Wednesday, 1:00p.m. - 2:15p.m.

Ling 254/654: Syntax II

Recent developments in the principles and parameters approach to syntactic theory. In-depth exploration of theoretical and empirical issues in long-distance dependencies (island effects, dependency types, movement vs. binding), the character of syntactic structure (constituency, thematic mapping, functional categories), and the architecture of grammatical derivations (logical form, operations for structure building, anaphora).

Prerequisite: LING 253.

Professor: Hadas Kotek
Course Type: Intermediate courses
Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 11:35a.m. - 12:50p.m.

Ling 281/681: Comparative Syntax: A View from Kwa (Niger-Congo)

This course adopts a micro-comparative perspective by looking at closely related languages (i.e., Gbe and Kwa families of Niger Congo) as well as a macro-comparative perspective that situates these languages in the larger context of typologically and genetically unrelated languages (e.g., Romance, Germanic). We set the stage by first looking at word formation, word classes, and the role of tones at the morphosyntactic level. Building on this, the first part of the course discusses topics such as Tense, Mood, Aspect (TMA) expressions, word order variation (e.g., VO vs. OV patterns), serial verb constructions, restructuring, and the notion of ‘light verb.’ These topics establish a profile of the clause structure in these languages. With this knowledge at hand, the second part of this course addresses the question of information structure and the commonly assumed parallelism between the CP and DP domains. The descriptive framework adopted in this course is the Cartographic Approach developed by Rizzi (1997), Cinque (1999), Aboh (2004), and much related work. Some background in syntax is assumed.

Course Type: Intermediate courses
Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 4:00p.m. - 5:15p.m.
Course Type: Seminars

Ling 344/744: Topics in Phonology: Prosody-Syntax Structure Correspondence

This course explores how languages organize sounds into domains arranged within a hierarchical structure. Research over the past 40 years has shown that this prosodic structure often matches syntactic structure, but mismatches can arise due to phonological pressures. We examine several theories of the relationship between syntactic and prosodic structure by discussing primary literature and data from a range of languages. The course culminates in an original research paper on a topic chosen by the student. 

Prerequisites: LING 232 and LING 253, or permission of instructor. Ling 235 is recommended, but not required.

Professor: Natalie Weber
Course Type: Seminars
Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Tuesday, 9:25a.m. - 11:15a.m.

Ling 351/751: Na-Dene languages

This course explores the Na-Dene (Dene-Eyak-Tlingit) family of indigenous languages of North America, which includes languages from Alaska (e.g. Tlingit), northern Canada (e.g. Dëne Sųłiné), western Canada (e.g. Dakelh), Oregon (e.g. Tolowa), California (e.g. Hupa), and the American southwest (e.g. Navajo). Topics addressed include historical and comparative research, phonology, morphology and syntax, and semantics, as well as some intersections between language and culture in the family. Students investigate and report on patterns and phenomena that are documented across multiple languages in the family, culminating in a final presentation and paper that summarize their research over the term.

Prerequisites: LING 232LING 253, or permission of instructor. Suggested courses include LING 220 and LING 263.

Professor: James Crippen
Course Type: Seminars
Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Friday 9:25a.m. - 11:15a.m.

Ling 392/792: From Morpho-Syntax to Meaning: Definiteness, Indefiniteness, Genericity

This course explores how individual languages encode the notions of definiteness, indefiniteness and genericity, and whether it is possible to predict such meanings when overt morpho-syntactic cues are absent. Languages with and without definite/indefinite articles provide critical test cases. Students read primary semantic literature on each of these three topics to get a solid grounding in the theoretical issues surrounding them. They also evaluate how empirical discoveries from different languages have shaped our understanding of the connection between morpho-syntax and semantics. The broader question considered here is the possibility of a restrictive theory of cross-linguistic variation in the interpretation of nominals.

Prerequisite: LING 263 or permission of instructor.

Professor: Veneeta Dayal
Course Type: Seminars
Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Wednesday, 9:25a.m. - 11:15a.m.
Course Type: Senior requirements

Ling 491: The Senior Essay

Research and writing of the senior essay under the guidance of a faculty adviser. Students present research related to their essays in a weekly colloquium.

Prerequisite: LING 490.

Course Type: Senior requirements
Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Wednesday, 4:00p.m. - 5:50p.m.