Linguistics is the study of all aspects of human language: how languages make it possible to transmit ideas and feelings; how and why languages are similar and different; how we develop different styles and dialects; what will be required for computers to understand and produce spoken language; and how languages are used in everyday communication as well as in formal settings. Linguists try to figure out what it is that speakers know and do by observing the structure of languages, the way children learn language, slips of the tongue, conversations, storytelling, the acoustics of sound waves, and the way people’s brains react when they hear speech or read. Linguists also reconstruct prehistoric languages, and try to deduce the principles behind their evolution into the thousands of languages of the world today.
The major in linguistics is useful for careers involving cognitive science, computer science, psychology, international business, language teaching, advertising, publishing, law, and documentation. Double majors and minors are encouraged with language, computer science, psychology, communication, sociology, anthropology, international affairs, philosophy, and education.
The core of the major is a set of courses, taught in the Department of Linguistics, on the nature of language. In addition, the major requires language courses offered by other departments (except for fluent speakers of languages other than English).
The undergraduate degree in linguistics emphasizes knowledge and awareness of:
In addition, students completing the degree in linguistics are expected to acquire the ability and skills to:
Course codes for this program are LING and ESLG.
Majors in linguistics must complete a total of 32 hours of study in general linguistics, including 5 in a natural language (for exceptions, see below). Language study is taken in other departments.
Students must complete the general requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences and the required courses listed below.
Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours
Complete the following courses in general linguistics with grades of C- or better:
Natural Language. Students must complete with a grade of C- (2.00) or better a minimum of 5 credit hours of study of a natural language other than English (including signed languages used by deaf communities). The 5 credit hours offered in satisfaction of this requirement must be at the 3000 level or above for widely-taught languages (French, German, Latin, Spanish), or at the 2000 level or above for less-widely-taught languages (Arabic, American Sign Language, Chinese, Farsi, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish). Only courses taught in the language in question, and focused specifically on language-learning, may be used for this requirement. A list of all the approved courses is available from the Department of Linguistics or the departmental undergraduate advisor. The natural language requirement may be satisfied by examination or waived for foreign students whose native language is not English; in these cases, students must still meet the college minimum major requirement of 18 credit hours ofupper-division course work and 30 credit hours overall in the major. Students who wish to have their language requirement waived must obtain the consent of an undergraduate advisor before registering for the fall term of the junior year.
Electives. A minimum of 15 elective hours must be completed with a grade of C- (2.00) or better. Courses may be chosen from the following:
Other upper-division linguistics courses may also be chosen if available; graduate courses may be taken with permission of the department.
The department recommends that pro-spec-tive majors complete LING 2000 and at least two 1000-level foreign language courses (in the same language) by the end of the sophomore year, unless the student’s foreign language proficiency is already advanced.
The fall semester of the junior year should include LING 3430, a 2000-level foreign language course, and a linguistics elective or LING 4420. It must also include LING 2000 if that was not taken earlier. The spring semester of the junior year should include LING 3100, a linguistics elective, and a further 2000-level foreign language course (if needed to prepare the student for the required upper-division foreign language hours).
Consult the Four-Year Guarantee Requirements for information on eligibility. The concept of “adequate progress” as it is used here refers only to maintaining eligibility for the four-year guarantee; it is not a requirement for the major. To maintain adequate progress in linguistics, students should meet the following requirements:
Note: A linguistics major who has been excluded from any upper-division linguistics course due to enrollment limitations will be given first preference for a seat in that course the following year if the exclusion is made known to the department staff within two weeks after it occurs. No declared linguistics major who still needs LING 2000 for fall of the junior year and attempts to register for it during the regular registration period for continuing students (spring of the sophomore year) will be excluded from the course.
Language study and some courses in the major may be completed in university or university-affiliated study abroad programs, and such study is recommended. Students interested in doing part of their major work in a study abroad program should discuss the matter with their advisor before going abroad. For information on study abroad programs, consult the Office of International Education.
The honors program in linguistics offers the opportunity for highly motivated undergraduates to undertake a deeper and more individualized study of linguistics than is provided by the regular BA curriculum. Linguistics majors with an overall grade point average of 3.30 or higher are eligible to participate in the program. Honors that may be earned are cum laude (with honors), magna cum laude (with high honors), and summa cum laude (with highest honors).
Students interested in pursuing departmental honors are encouraged to consult with the departmental honors advisor by the beginning of their junior year to ensure that they will be able to meet the requirements for departmental honors before graduation.
A minor is offered in linguistics. Declaration of a minor is open to any student enrolled at CU-Boulder, regardless of college or school.
Students minoring in linguistics must complete a total of 18 credit hours in linguistics, 9 of which must be at the upper-division level. They must maintain an overall and a linguistics GPA of at least 2.00 (C), and complete all LING courses with a C- or better.
Required Course and Semester Credit Hours
Complete 2 of the following:
Take the remaining one of the three courses listed above and/or choose from the following electives to bring the total credit hours to 18:
NOTE: At least 3 credit hours of the electives must be an upper-division course.
The department has a five-year concurrent bachelor’s and master’s degree program, which is recommended only for the most serious and able graduate students. For further information, see the graduate advisor in the spring of the sophomore year or during the first week of the fall semester of the junior year.
Students wishing to pursue graduate work in linguistics should carefully read Requirements for Advanced Degrees in the Graduate School section of this catalog and the detailed degree requirements available from the department office. A brief summary of MA and PhD requirements follow.
Prerequisites. Applicants should hold a recognized baccalaureate degree. They should have considerable knowledge of a language other than their native language. This knowledge may have been gained by formal study or by use of the language in a country, community, or institution where it is the usual means of communication. The department may require formal study of a foreign language by graduate students whose proficiency in this area is less than the equivalent of the college junior level. GRE scores are required from United States residents; scores are also required from native speakers of English who wish to be considered for fellowship aid. TOEFL scores are normally required from foreign applicants.
The master’s degree calls for a minimum of three semesters of study, though four semesters is usual. Students must complete LING 5030 Linguistic Phonetics, LING 5410 Phonology, LING 5420 Morphology and Syntax, LING 5430 Semantics and Pragmatics, and LING 5570 Introduction to Diachronic Linguistics.
The remaining courses are normally taken at the 5000-level or above. Students in Plan I (thesis) must complete a total of 30 semester hours, including 4–6 thesis hours. Students in Plan II (nonthesis) must complete a total of 30 semester hours of course work. All students must pass a comprehensive written examination covering general topics in linguistics plus the thesis topic if any.
The MA in linguistics for TESOL professionals is a graduate program in linguistics. The MA will provide a cohesive, professionally oriented program addressing the increased demand for professionalization in the field of teaching English as a second language. The program requires completion of 30 credit hours: 12 in graduate linguistics course, 12 in required TESOL courses, a 3-credit practicum, and a 3-credit elective course. A comprehensive examination and teaching portfolio are required.
To be admitted to the PhD program, students must have completed course work equivalent to LING 5030 Linguistic Phonetics, LING 5410 Phonology, LING 5420 Morphology and Syntax, LING 5430 Semantics and Pragmatics, LING 5570 Introduction to Diachronic Linguistics, and LING 6450 Syntactic Analysis. Students who do not have this preparation may be admitted to the MA program. They may apply for admission to the PhD program when these requirements are close to completion. Students may be admitted to the PhD program before finishing the MA.
In addition to phonology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics, the department offers specializations in sociolinguistics, conversation analysis, historical linguistics, typological comparison, Amerindian linguistics, African linguistics, linguistic anthropology, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, language development, cognitive linguistics, and computational modeling of language knowledge. Students should select a specialization and begin their own research as early as possible.
As a PhD preliminary examination, students submit a data-based research paper at the beginning of the second year in the PhD program. The university comprehensive examination requirement is completed in two steps: the completion of a synthesis paper followed by the defense of a dissertation prospectus.