For Non-Majors

The Department of Linguistics offers several courses open to students with no previous training in the field. These courses provide a general introduction to the subject matter and technical methods of linguistics, both for students who do not plan to major in Linguistics and for prospective majors.

Students with no previous background in linguistics are encouraged to approach the field by taking a freshman seminar or a 100-level course. The current 100-level courses are the following.

Term: Fall 2020

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.

Term: Fall 2020
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.

Term: Fall 2020
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.

Term: Fall 2020
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.

Term: Fall 2020
Tuesday & Thursday, 2:30p-3:45p
Term: Spring 2021

LING 112 Historical Linguistics

Introduction to language change and language history. Types of change that a language undergoes over time: sound change, analogy, syntactic and semantic change, borrowing. Techniques for recovering earlier linguistic stages: philology, internal reconstruction, the comparative method. The role of language contact in language change. Evidence from language in prehistory.

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

Term: Spring 2021
Monday & Wednesday, 1:00p-2:15p

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.

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

Term: Spring 2021
Monday & Wednesday, 2:30p-3:45p

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Any questions about the undergraduate program can be directed to the DUS below.

Picture Name Contact
Jim Wood's picture
Jim Wood
Assistant Professor & DUS
jim.wood@yale.edu