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 110/510 - 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.

1 credit for Yale College students

Term: Fall 2020
Tuesday & Thursday 11:35a - 12:50p
Term: Fall 2021

LING 101 - Introduction to English Words

Where do the words of English come from, and where do they go? When do words stick around, and when do they fade? What is the difference between informal speech and slang? This course introduces students to the study of language through the lens of English word structure, with occasional glances at the structure of words in other languages of the world. We study different ways of forming new words from prefixes and suffixes, as well from compounding, blending, and other more exotic processes. We study the sound structure of words and how they are used in sentences. We study what happens when English adopts words from other languages, and when English words are used in other languages, and how words change their sound, shape, and meaning over time. Finally, we discuss the different ‘effects’ that different words might have in conversation, and the issues that word choice raises in society at large. 

1 credit for Yale College students

Term: Fall 2021
Tuesday & Thursday, 1:00p - 2:15p

LING 112/512 - Historical Linguistics

Introduction to language change and language history. How do people use language, and how does that lead to language change 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 (doing archaeology with language).

1 credit for Yale College students

Term: Fall 2021
Tuesday & Thursday, 4:00p - 5:15p

LING 102 - Introduction to Language and Religion

This survey course examines topics related to how language structures intersect socially with concepts related to religion. Students develop tools to talk about how linguistic form and meaning reflect different properties of religion through building their knowledge of linguistics literature. Students demonstrate their ability to synthesize their own novel research that expand on current lines of research.

1 credit for Yale College students

Term: Fall 2021
Monday & Wednesday 11:35a -12:50p
Term: Spring 2022

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.

1 credit for Yale College students

Term: Spring 2022
TBA

LING 107 - Linguistic Diversity and Endangerment

Introduction to the complexity of the question “How many languages are there in the world?” Geographical and historical survey of the world’s languages; consideration of the ways in which languages can differ from one another. Language endangerment and the threat to world linguistic diversity it poses. Language reclamation and revitalization.

1 credit for Yale College students

Term: Spring 2022
TBA

LING 116/516 - 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.

1 credit for Yale College students

Term: Spring 2022
Monday & Wednesday, 4:00 - 5:15p

LING 146/546 - Language and Gender

An introduction to linguistics through the lens of gender. Topics include: gender as constructed through language; language variation as conditioned by gender and sexuality within and between languages across the world; real and perceived differences between male and female speech; language and (non)binarity; gender and noun class systems in language; pronouns and identity; role of language in encoding, reflecting, or reinforcing social attitudes and behavior.

1 credit for Yale College students

Term: Spring 2022
Tuesday & Thursday, 11:35a - 12:50p

Director of Undergraduate Studies

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