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 103 Language Contact in the Ancient World

What languages were people using in our earliest written records? How were they written? What were people talking about in these texts? This course examines the languages of the ancient near east and other civilizations that they interacted with, from Greece to Egypt. Language contact is reflected both in ancient people’s discussion of languages and use of translations, as well as in loanwords and other influences of languages on each other. Based on the written records, we also have information about other languages that were never written down, through names and other borrowed words. From the earliest tokens tracking trade commodities to epic poetry, these written records give us insights into the lives of people in the ancient world: The complaints of scribes in training, correspondences between kings, and dedications to gods.

This course can be applied towards the Humanities and Arts Yale College distributional requirement.

Professor: Chelsea Sanker
Course Type: Introductory courses
Term: Fall 2020
Day/Time: Monday & Wednesday, 1:00p-2:15p

LING 110 Language: Introduction to Linguistics

This is a course about language as a window into the human mind and language as glue in human society. Nature, nurture, or both? Linguistics is a science that addresses this puzzle for human language. Language is one of the most complex of human behaviors, but it comes to us without effort. Language is common to all societies and is typically acquired without explicit instruction. Human languages vary within highly specific parameters. The conventions of speech communities exhibit variation and change over time within the confines of universal grammar, part of our biological endowment. The properties of universal grammar are discovered through the careful study of the structures of individual languages and comparison across languages. This course introduces analytical methods that are used to understand this fundamental aspect of human knowledge. In this introductory course students learn about the principles that underly all human languages, and what makes language special. We study language sounds, how words are formed, how humans compute meaning, as well as language in society, language change, and linguistic diversity.

This course can be applied towards the Social Sciences Yale College distributional requirement.

Professor: Claire Bowern
Course Type: Introductory courses
Term: Fall 2020
Day/Time: Monday & Wednesday, 2:30p-3:45p

LING 117 Language in America

This course examines the linguistic landscape of the USA. Covering Indigenous, immigrant, and colonial languages, with a focus on contemporary issues of language and politics, race and ethnicity, discrimination, and reclamation. Language variation, including varieties of English (regional varieties, African American Language), and ideologies around language use (such as ‘English only’ movements). 

This course can be applied towards the Social Sciences Yale College distributional requirement.

Professor: Roslyn Burns
Course Type: Introductory courses
Term: Fall 2020
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 1:00p-2:15p

LING 217 Language and Mind

The structure of linguistic knowledge and how it is used during communication. The principles that guide the acquisition of this system by children learning their first language, by children learning language in unusual circumstances (heritage speakers, sign languages) and adults learning a second language, bilingual speakers. The processing of language in real-time. Psychological traits that impact language learning and language use. 

This course can be applied towards the Social Sciences Yale College distributional requirement.

Professor: Maria Piñango
Course Type: Introductory courses
Term: Fall 2020
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 2:30p-3:45p
Course Type: Intermediate courses

LING 234 Quantitative Linguistics

This course introduces statistical methods in linguistics, which are an increasingly integral part of linguistic research. The course provides students with the skills necessary to organize, analyze, and visualize linguistic data using R, and explains the concepts underlying these methods, which set a foundation that positions students to also identify and apply new quantitative methods, beyond the ones covered in this course, in their future projects. Course concepts are framed around existing linguistic research, to help students design future research projects and critically evaluate academic literature. Assignments and in-class activities involve a combination of hands-on practice with quantitative tools and discussion of analyses used in published academic work. The course also include brief overviews of linguistic topics as a foundation for discussing the statistical methods used to investigate them.

This course can be applied towards the following Yale College distributional requirements:

  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Social Sciences
Professor: Chelsea Sanker
Course Type: Intermediate courses
Term: Fall 2020
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 4:00p-5:15p

LING 253 Syntax I

If you knew all the words of a language, would you be able to speak that language? No, because you’d still need to know how to put the words together to form all and only the grammatical sentences of that language. This course focuses on the principles of our mental grammar that determine how words are put together to form sentences. Some of these principles are shared by all languages, some differ from language to language. The interplay of the principles that are shared and those that are distinct allows us to understand how languages can be very similar and yet also very different at the same time.

This course is mainly an introduction to syntactic theory: it introduces the questions that the field asks, the methodology it employs, some of the main generalizations that have been drawn and results that have been achieved. Secondarily, this course is also an introduction to scientific theorizing: what it means to construct a scientific theory, how to test it, and how to choose among competing theories. 

This course can be applied towards the Social Sciences Yale College distributional requirement.

Course Type: Intermediate courses
Term: Fall 2020
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 11:35a-12:50p

LING 263 Semantics I

Introduction to truth-conditional compositional semantics. Set theory, first- and higher-order logic, and the lambda calculus as they relate to the study of natural language meaning. Some attention to analyzing the meanings of tense/aspect markers, adverbs, and modals.

This course can be applied towards the following Yale College distributional requirements:

  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Social Sciences
Professor: Veneeta Dayal
Course Type: Intermediate courses
Term: Fall 2020
Day/Time: Monday & Wednesday, 2:30p-3:45p
Course Type: Advanced courses

LING 280 Morphology (Section 01)

The theory of word structure within a formal grammar. Relation to other areas of grammar (syntax, phonology); basic units of word structure; types of morphology (inflection, derivation, compounding).

Prerequisites: LING 232 and LING 253, or permission of instructor.

This class has a mandatory discussion section once per week. 

Professor: Jim Wood
Course Type: Advanced courses
Term: Fall 2020
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 1:00p.m. - 1:50p.m.

LING 280 Morphology (Section 02)

The theory of word structure within a formal grammar. Relation to other areas of grammar (syntax, phonology); basic units of word structure; types of morphology (inflection, derivation, compounding).

Prerequisites: LING 232 and LING 253, or permission of instructor.

This class has a mandatory discussion section once per week. 

Professor: Jim Wood
Course Type: Advanced courses
Term: Fall 2020
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 2:00p.m. - 2:50p.m.

LING 396 Semantic Investigations in an Unfamiliar Language

This course introduces students to semantic fieldwork. It chooses a language that is likely not known to any student in the class and has no substantive semantic literature. Students are introduced to a phenomenon in the language on which there is some syntactic literature, either in that language or in one or more related language. This provides a starting point for students to articulate questions to investigate that are primarily semantic nature. Working with a native speaker consultant, students elicit data that answer these initial questions but very likely lead to further questions to investigate. To keep the elicitation focused, these investigations are restricted to topics related to the primary phenomenon discussed, while allowing some margin for individual interests. In addition to the syntactic and semantic literature on the chosen topic or topics, students also read material on fieldwork methodologies for linguistics generally as well as those specifically for semantics. Students work in small groups to fulfill part of the requirements.

Prerequisites: LING 253LING 263 or permission of the instructor

This course can be applied towards the Social Sciences Yale College distributional requirement.

Professor: Veneeta Dayal
Course Type: Advanced courses
Term: Fall 2020
Day/Time: Monday & Wednesday, 11:35a-12:50p
Course Type: Seminars

LING 300 The Cognitive Science of Sign Language

Natural sign languages like American Sign Language have all of the structure and complexity of spoken languages. They are learned and processed like spoken languages, and activate neural structures that maximally overlap with those activated by spoken languages. These findings have not only had important implications for the sociopolitical status of Deaf people, as a native, American minority community but also have caused linguists and psychologists to re-evaluate their most fundamental theories of language representation and processing in the mind and brain. The course introduces you to the analysis of sign languages at different levels of linguistic structure and related aspects of cognition in the visual modality. The primary goal is to encourage you―as linguists, psychologists, and cognitive scientists―to consider how natural sign languages can and must inform your linguistic theories (linguistics), models of language and cognition (psychology), and technological applications of language processing (computer science/artificial intelligence). We also consider the ways in which signing communities/Deaf culture interact with the hearing world―often as marginalized minority groups―and reflect upon access to language and information as a basic human right.

Some background in linguistic structure, cognitive science, any signed language, or permission of the instructor is preferred. 

This course can be applied towards the Social Sciences Yale College distributional requirement.

Professor: Maria Piñango, Professor: Andy Zhang
Course Type: Seminars
Term: Fall 2020
Day/Time: Wednesday, 9:25a-11:15a

LING 341 Phonology at the Interfaces: Contrast Dispersion

This course explores how languages of the world structure contrasts in sound systems through a property known as contrast dispersion. We analyze contrast dispersion from a variety of different perspectives (for example, phonetic, phonological, diachronic, etc.). Students explore different ways the contrast dispersion has been defined over time, alternative theoretical approaches to contrast dispersion, and how scholars have formally modeled phenomena involving contrast dispersion.

Prerequisite: LING 232

This course meets during the Reading Period: the week between the last week of classes and finals week. 

This course can be applied towards the Social Sciences Yale College distributional requirement.

Professor: Roslyn Burns
Course Type: Seminars
Term: Fall 2020
Day/Time: Tuesday, 9:25a-11:15a
Course Type: Senior requirements

LING 490 Research Methods in Linguistics

Development of skills in linguistics research, writing, and presentation. Choosing a research area, identifying good research questions, developing hypotheses, and presenting ideas clearly and effectively, both orally and in writing; methodological issues; the balance between building on existing literature and making a novel contribution. Prepares for the writing of the senior essay.

Course Type: Senior requirements
Term: Fall 2020
Day/Time: Wednesday, 4:00p-5:50p