• LING 100: The Noun

    We’ve all been taught that nouns are people, places, and things. Yet, these seemingly simple linguistic objects are surprisingly complex. For instance, languages vary in what information (e.g., case, gender, person, number) nouns display. Even within a single language, the form of a noun may change depending on its function within a sentence or its function within a conversation. This course uses contemporary linguistic theories to account for the many varied forms of nouns throughout the world’s languages. No familiarity with languages other than English is required. 6 credits; Argument and Inquiry Seminar, Writing Requirement; offered Fall 2023 · Morgan Rood
  • LING 110: Introduction to Linguistics

    The capacity to acquire and use natural languages such as English is surely one of the more remarkable features of human nature. In this course, we explore several aspects of this ability. Topics include the sound systems of natural languages, the structure of words, principles that regulate word order, the course of language acquisition in children, and what these reveal about the nature of the mind. 6 credits; Formal or Statistical Reasoning; offered Winter 2024, Spring 2024 · Christopher Geissler
  • LING 115: Introduction to the Theory of Syntax

    This course is organized to enable the student to actively participate in the construction of a rather elaborate theory of the nature of human cognitive capacity to acquire and use natural languages. In particular, we concentrate on one aspect of that capacity: the unconscious acquisition of a grammar that enables a speaker of a language to produce and recognize sentences that have not been previously encountered. In the first part of the course, we concentrate on gathering notation and terminology intended to allow an explicit and manageable description. In the second part, we depend on written and oral student contributions in a cooperative enterprise of theory construction. 6 credits; Formal or Statistical Reasoning; offered Fall 2023, Spring 2024 · Catherine Fortin
  • LING 117: Sociophonetics

    This course is a theoretical and practical introduction to studying phonetics (the science of speech) and its relation to sociolinguistic variation (how speech systematically varies across speakers). Throughout the course, students will collect their own conversational speech data and learn to conduct acoustic analysis. Skills developed in the course include recording speech, transcribing, data processing and normalization, and effective presentation of results.

    not offered 2023–2024
  • LING 135: Introduction to Sociolinguistics

    There is a complex relationship between language and society. This course examines how language variation is tied to identity and the role of language in human social interaction. We will consider language as it relates to social status, age, gender, ethnicity, and location as well as theoretical models used to study variation. We will also examine how language is used in conversation, in the media, and beyond using ethnography of communication and discourse analysis. You will become more aware of how language is used in your own daily life and will be able to argue sociolinguistic perspectives on language attitudes.

    6 credits; Intercultural Domestic Studies, Social Inquiry; offered Fall 2023 · Morgan Rood
  • LING 140: Language in the U.S.

    The United States is home to diverse and interconnected linguistic communities. In this course, we will see how applying the tools of linguistics—the scientific study of language—can shed light on the dynamics of these communities. We will examine how language unites and divides, changes over time, and is used for oppression and for liberation. We will see how groups and individuals vary their linguistic expression as they navigate subtle racial, ethnic, geographic, and socioeconomic boundaries. Along the way, students will gain familiarity with a range of research methodologies and the interpretation of different kinds of data.

    6 credits; Intercultural Domestic Studies, Social Inquiry; offered Spring 2024 · Christopher Geissler
  • LING 150: From Esperanto to Dothraki: The Linguistics of Invented Languages

    What lies behind the human urge to construct new languages? How has language invention changed over time? What can invented languages teach us about the function of natural languages and their syntactic, morphological, and phonological structure? In this course, students will dive into the history of invented languages, tackle the question of what constitutes a language, and ultimately try their hand at constructing their own language. We’ll explore what separates natural languages from invented ones and discuss how often the very qualities that their creators find most desirable inhibit the widespread adoption they envision for their languages.

    not offered 2023–2024
  • LING 216: Generative Approaches to Syntax

    This course has two primary goals: to provide participants with a forum to continue to develop their analytical skills (i.e., to ‘do syntax’), and to acquaint them with generative syntactic theory, especially the Principles and Parameters approach. Participants will sharpen their technological acumen, through weekly problem solving, and engage in independent thinking and analysis, by means of formally proposing novel syntactic analyses for linguistic phenomena. By the conclusion of the course, participants will be prepared to read and critically evaluate primary literature couched within this theoretical framework.

    Prerequisites: Linguistics 115 6 credits; Formal or Statistical Reasoning; offered Winter 2024 · Catherine Fortin
  • LING 217: Phonetics and Phonology

    Although no two utterances are ever exactly the same, we humans don’t function like tape recorders; we overlook distinctions to which mechanical recording devices are sensitive, and we “hear” contrasts which are objectively not there. What we (think we) hear is determined by the sound system of the language we speak. This course examines the sound systems of human languages, focusing on how speech sounds are produced and perceived, and how these units come to be organized into a systematic network in the minds of speakers of languages. Prerequisites: 100-level Linguistics course 6 credits; Formal or Statistical Reasoning; offered Fall 2023 · Christopher Geissler
  • LING 232: Structure and History of German

    Why does German sometimes put the verb second and sometimes at the end, and how did this strange arrangement emerge? What differentiates the Scandinavian languages from Germanic tongues from more central latitudes? How did Germans come to say Apfel, while English and Dutch speakers say apple/appel? This course will explore these and similar questions, providing a linguistic overview of the German language and investigating key historical developments in the Germanic language family. Key topics will include dialectal variation, historical sound change, and syntactic structure, with primary focus on German and some attention to the Germanic language family as a whole.

    Prerequisites: Either previous or concurrent enrollment in any Carleton Linguistics courses or knowledge of German or another Germanic language (not English). Concurrent enrollment in German 101 or higher satisfies the knowledge of German requirement not offered 2023–2024
  • LING 240: Semantics and Pragmatics

    A central part of the grammar of a language is the meaning associated with words and phrases. This course explores the multi-faceted system that speakers access both when producing sentences and when interpreting them. Topics include the complexity surrounding actually defining words, the meanings of various modal verbs, and theories of pragmatics and the rules of conversation, among other topics. Content will differ slightly, depending on whether students have had previous linguistics courses or not.

    not offered 2023–2024
  • LING 275: First Language Acquisition

    Humans are unique among animals in that we attain native speaker competency in any language(s) we receive a sufficient amount of exposure to during the right time of our development. The path of first language acquisition is remarkably stable regardless of the language(s) being acquired, and yields insights into the nature of human language. In this course, we explore children’s capacity to acquire language, with a focus on its implications for linguistic theory. Topics include acquisition of phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics, and acquisition in extraordinary circumstances.

    Prerequisites: 100-level linguistics course 6 credits; Social Inquiry; offered Winter 2024 · Catherine Fortin
  • LING 276: Bilingualism & Code-Switching

    Prerequisites: Any previous Linguistics course not offered 2023–2024
  • LING 280: Field Methods in Linguistics

    This course will introduce students to techniques of linguistic research and analysis through direct work with a native speaker of a language not taught at Carleton. Students will learn techniques for eliciting, organizing, describing, and analyzing data in an ethically responsible and scientifically rigorous manner. Our goal is to develop a description of the language–primarily, aspects of its phonology, morphology, and syntax–through working exclusively with a native speaker. Each student will investigate some aspect of the language in depth, culminating in a class presentation and research report.

    Prerequisites: 100-level Linguistics course not offered 2023–2024
  • LING 285: Japanese Linguistics in Kyoto Seminar: The Linguistics of the Japanese Writing System

    The Japanese writing system is often said to be the most complicated in the world, even as Japan has among the very highest literacy rates. In this course, we will closely examine this extraordinary aspect of Japanese society, including its history, relationship with the spoken language, psychological processing, and neural implementation. Finally, we will examine the controversy concerning the use of Kanji, its political ramifications, and look at how the Japanese are responding to various pressures on the system. Experience with Japanese is not necessary.

    Prerequisites: 100-level Linguistics course not offered 2023–2024
  • LING 286: Japanese Linguistics in Kyoto Seminar: The Structure of Japanese

    This course examines the nature of the Japanese language through the lens of contemporary linguistic theory. Topics include the history of the language, its sound structure, word formation operations, syntax, and its use in social and artistic contexts. This course is not intended to teach students to speak Japanese, and while experience with Japanese would be helpful, it is not necessary.

    Prerequisites: 100-level Linguistics course not offered 2023–2024
  • LING 288: The Structure of Dakota

    This course examines the nature of the endangered language Dakota, which was once spoken on what is today Carleton land. We will study several aspects of the language, including phonology, morphology, and syntax, with the assistance of speakers of the language from the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation. The goal of the course is to produce an array of careful, accurate, and clear descriptions of parts of the language, working towards a new pedagogical grammar of the language to be used in the construction of teaching materials for Dakota children. 

    Prerequisites: Linguistics 115 or Linguistics 217 (Linguistics 217 can be taken simultaneously) not offered 2023–2024
  • LING 315: Topics in Syntax

    More on syntax. Particular topics vary by year and student interest.

    Prerequisites: Linguistics 216 not offered 2023–2024
  • LING 316: Topics in Morphology

    This course explores how languages form words and how contemporary theories account for this complicated process. We concentrate primarily on the interaction between morphology and syntax, but we may also explore the relationship between morphology and phonology. While we will investigate a wide variety of languages, no familiarity with any language other than English is required.

    Prerequisites: Linguistics 216 not offered 2023–2024
  • LING 317: Topics in Phonology

    More on phonology. This course examines a small number of topics in depth. Particular topics vary from year to year.

    Prerequisites: Linguistics 217 not offered 2023–2024
  • LING 318: Laboratory Phonology

    Laboratory phonology is the study of sound patterns in language through experiments. We will work together to conduct an original study that tests ideas in phonology using phonetic data. In order to design our own research project, we will explore claims and predictions made in the theoretical literature. As such, this course provides an experimental look at the phonetics-phonology interface. Students will collaboratively develop the experiment design, conduct recordings, take measurements, analyze data, and interpret results. Tools for quantitative analysis will be provided as needed. Students will be able to apply the skills acquired to future quantitative-based research projects.

    Prerequisites: Linguistics 217 6 credits; Science with Lab, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Winter 2024 · Christopher Geissler
  • LING 325: Syntax of an Unfamiliar Language

    In this course we examine, with the help of a native speaker consultant, the syntax of a language deliberately chosen for its being unfamiliar to all the participants. Our goals will be to construct a coherent and theoretically respectable account of principles of the grammar of this language, and to understand what our account reveals about the structure of human language generally. Each student will investigate some aspect of the syntax of the language in depth, culminating in a class presentation and research report. Prerequisites: Linguistics 216 6 credits; Science with Lab; offered Fall 2023 · Catherine Fortin
  • LING 340: Topics in Semantics

    Semantics is the study of what words and constructions mean in a language and how speakers come to actually interpret those meanings. In this course we explore several objects of inquiry within the field of semantics, including compositional semantics (i.e., the computation of meaning over syntactic structures), lexical semantics (with a particular emphasis on verb meanings), and how the various interpretations of ambiguous constructions are derived.

    Prerequisites: Linguistics 216 6 credits; Formal or Statistical Reasoning; offered Spring 2024 · Cherlon Ussery
  • LING 375: Second Language Acquisition: Speech

    Why do some people acquiring a second language obtain a pronunciation indistinguishable from that of native speakers, while others, despite excellent skills in the areas of syntax, semantics, and vocabulary, never shed their “foreign accent”? In this seminar, we will explore theoretical models that examine the impact of factors like age of acquisition, length of residence, motivation, learning environment, language identity, and native language on the phonetics and phonology of second language acquisition, looking at speech production and perception. The course will be organized around a term-long collaborative research project, with goals and topic set by the class.

    Prerequisites: Linguistics 217 not offered 2023–2024
  • LING 399: Senior Thesis

    3 credits; S/CR/NC; Formal or Statistical Reasoning; offered Fall 2023 · Cherlon Ussery
  • LING 400: Integrative Exercise

    6 credits; S/NC; offered Winter 2024