Claire Bowern


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
Day/Time: Monday & Wednesday, 2:30p-3:45p

Term: Fall 2021

LING 219 The Evolution of Language and Culture

Introduction to cultural and linguistic evolution. How human language arose; how diversity evolves; how innovations proceed through a community; who within a community drives change; how changes can be “undone” to reconstruct the past. Methods originally developed for studying evolutionary biology are applied to language and culture.

1 credit for Yale College students
Term: Fall 2021
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 9a - 10:15a