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 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
Term: Fall 2021

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 2021
Tuesday & Thursday, 2:30p-3:45p

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. 

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

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

LING 112 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).

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

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