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.
LING 077 Mapping the Dialects of American English
We all know that languages have different regional dialects, and American English is no exception. But what are the dialects of American English, and how are they determined? Does every town have its own dialect, or are there broader patterns across larger regions? Are the patterns different for different demographic categories? Are there different dialect regions depending on gender? Race? How do we know where one dialect region stops and another begins? It turns out that there is no one answer to these questions. Moreover, the answers we find depend greatly on what aspect of language we are looking at. This hands-on seminar explores different ways of visualizing how language varies across geographical space, with a focus on dialect variation. Students study recent research discussing new techniques for analyzing geographic patterns of linguistic variation, and apply those techniques to survey data collected in recent years by the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project. Students develop their own mapping projects based on these data, and discover novel ways to visualize and analyze regional dialect variation. The course involves an introduction to some basic concepts in linguistics, as well as an introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software.
LING 110 Language: Introduction to Linguistics
The goals and methods of linguistics. Basic concepts in phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. Techniques of linguistic analysis and construction of linguistic models. Trends in modern linguistics. The relation of linguistics to psychology, logic, and other disciplines.
LING 113 Indo-European Linguistics
Introduction to the inner workings and prehistory of the Indo-European languages both as a language family and in its individual branches. Emphasis is on using the theoretical framework obtained by this knowledge, especially through practical applications for readers of ancient languages such as Greek, Latin, Hittite, Sanskrit, Avestan, and Middle Persian.
Prerequisite: some knowledge of at least one ancient Indo-European language, such as Latin, Greek, or Sanskrit.
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.
LING 202 The Mystery of the Voynich Manuscript
Introduction to basic ideas of linguistics and cryptography through the study of the Voynich Manuscript (MS 408), a mysterious medieval manuscript held in the Beinecke Library. Review of major hypotheses about the manuscript, ranging from the fake, to code, to undeciphered language.
LING 212 Linguistic Change
How languages change, how we study change, and how language relates to other areas of society. This seminar is taught through readings chosen by instructor and students, on topics of interest.
Prerequisite: LING 112 or equivalent.
LING 232 Phonology I
Why do languages sound distinct from one another? Partly it is because different languages use different sets of sounds (in spoken languages) or signs (in signed languages) from one another. But it is also because those sounds and signs have different distributional patterns in each language. Phonology is the study of the systematic organization and patterning of sounds and signs. Students learn to describe the production of sounds and signs (articulatory phonetics), discuss restrictions on sound and sign distribution (morphemic alternation, phonotactics), and develop a model of the phonological grammar in terms of rules and representations. Throughout the course, we utilize datasets taken from a variety of the world’s languages.
LING 234 Quantitative Linguistics
This course introduces quantitative 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 use these methods when designing future research projects and critically evaluating quantitative methods in the academic literature. Assignments and in-class activities are a combination of hands-on practice with quantitative tools and discussion of analyses used in published academic work.
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.
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.
LING 236 Articulatory Phonology
Study of experimental methods to record articulatory movements using electromagnetic articulography and/or ultrasound technologies and analytical approaches for relating articulatory movements to phonological structure. Hands-on training in laboratory techniques are paired with discussion of related experimental and theoretical research.
LING 345 The Syllable And Below
This course explores the structure of the syllable in various languages and theories. Students read primary literature on the evidence for and against syllables as a phonological unit, including evidence from stress patterns, phonotactics, sonority, language games, and allomorphy. Students also explore different theories of subsyllabic structure. The course culminates in a final paper, where students are encouraged to apply one or more of the theories discussed in class to original data or research.
LING 372 Meaning, Concepts, and Words
A cognitive approach to the structure of meaning from the perspetive of the language system. The brain’s finite collection of stored concepts, which are combined and recombined via predetermined principles. The system of associating combinations of concepts with combinations of words and sentences to produce an unlimited number of novel thoughts.
Prerequisite: at least one course in linguistics, psychology, or cognitive science.
LING 381 Argument Structure and Morphology
The intersection of argument structure and morphology. We study the ways that different argument structure configurations are reflected in the morphological shape of verbs (passives, causatives, reflexives, etc.), and how argument structure interacts with derivation, especially nouns and adjectives formed from verbs.
Prerequisite: LING 253 or permission of the instructor.
LING 394 Asserting, Asking, Answering
This course introduces students to some of the current debates in the literature on questions. It articulates the relationship between declarative/interrogative structures and the speech acts of asserting and asking. It also probes the status of an assertion as an answer to a question. Some of the main approaches to the semantics of questions are introduced, with special attention on linguistic phenomena. These include pair-list answers, quantificational variability effects, scope marking, alternative questions and polar question particles. The left periphery of interrogative clauses is explored by studying the behavior of interrogatives under different embedding predicates, and by locating the points at which direct question intonation and pragmatic bias in questioning can enter the derivation.
Prerequisite: LING 263 or permission of instructor.
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.