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Honors Program in Linguistics and Cognitive Science

The program in Linguistics and Cognitive Science encourages all qualified majors in Linguistics and majors in Cognitive Science to participate in the Honors Program during their senior year. The program consists of extensive independent research beyond the program's degree requirements (though up to two credits can be earned by participating), and typically concludes with the completion of an Honors Thesis. Majors who choose to participate in the Honors Program are provided with the opportunity to investigate theoretical issues and empirical phenomena at a level far more intensive than is possible in a typical undergraduate course.


The minimum requirement for admission to the Honors Program is a grade average of 3.3 for courses taken in the major and of 3.0 for all courses taken at the College.

Students who are ineligible for the Honors Program, or who cannot participate for other reasons, but do wish to pursue a topic in depth, should consult an adviser about the possibilities of doing research in the form of an independent study.

The Honors Thesis

An Honors Thesis is not a long term paper. Instead, it must reflect a command of the scholarly literature relevant to the thesis topic, proficiency in the tools and techniques of the relevant discipline, and evidence of a distinct point of view which is the result of the student's own reasoning process. The form of an Honor's Thesis is as important as the content; it must be a carefully planned and well-written piece.

The length of the thesis will vary widely depending on the nature of the topic. Honors work which involves a significant experimental component typically results in a shorter thesis (roughly 30 pages). Honors theses which include a great deal of collected data often reach lengths of 70 pages. The length of theses with a heavy theoretical orientation falls somewhere between these extremes.

Working closely with a faculty member is a crucial part of the Honors Program. Before applying to the Honors Program in Linguistics, you must discuss the proposed project with an adviser and obtain the adviser's tentative approval regarding the feasibility of the project. Any student who is working with an adviser whose primary area of research and/or training is not linguistics is required to consult with a member of the steering committee of Linguistics and Cognitive Science before submitting a thesis proposal.


In order to be accepted into the Honors Program a student must submit a proposal to the chair of the Program in Linguistics and Cognitive Science. This proposal (or prospectus) should present a succinct outline of the research project. It should:

  • Give a clear statement of purpose.
  • Define the parameters of the topic to be investigated.
  • Outline the procedures to be used in investigating the topic (e.g., the design of the experiments to be used, or the methodology employed to gather linguistic data).
  • Outline a realistic schedule for completion.
  • Include a bibliography which demonstrates an awareness of the relevant literature.
  • Include the name of a principal advisor who has agreed to serve and will be on campus for the two terms of the project.

The proposal will be reviewed by the program Steering Committee as a plan for the future, no a finished project. The program may accept or reject the proposal, or accept it with modifications. Proposals will be rejected if the project is not clearly defined or seems difficult to implement or conclude. If the department accepts a proposal with modifications, there is no need for the student to resubmit it provided that he/she agrees to the modifications. The department will also assign a second reader for each project. This reader will serve as an additional source of advice and expertise and will share in the task of evaluating the student's final product.

Students should be aware that the department's acceptance of a proposal is not a guarantee that the completed project will earn honors.

Recent Honors Theses


  • John T.  M. Merrill '11     
    Valence-changing Extensions in Herero
  • Suzanne C. Parker '11      
    The Neurobiology of Meditation: Cultivating Interpersonal Attunement through Mindfulness
  • Stefan D. Uddenberg '11     
    The Influence of Emotion on Perceptual Tuning Curves


  • Stephanie A. Gagnon '10  
    Distributed Representations of Contextual Processing : A Multi-Voxel Pattern Analysis
  • Benjamin F.T. Jones '10
    Indexical Order in the Rural Dialects of Kumamoto, Japan
  • Rayna C. Levine '10      
    The Effects of Rhythm and Music on Phonetic Memory
  • Kevin J. Miller '10
    A Computational Framework for Learning to Imitate Simple Line Drawings


  • Christina C. Castedo '09
    Variation and Change in Given Names: An Onomastic Investigation of Three Connecticut Communities
  • Lauren J. Hartz '09
    Accusations and Truth: Reconciling Statement Analysis and Child Discourse
  • Fiona J. Lundie '09
    Emotional Dynamics: An FMRI Study of How the Brain Processes Cross-Modal, Dynamic Representations of Emotion


  • Travis Green '08
    Nature vs. Nurture: An Initial Computational Analysis
  • Nicholas Williams '08
    Directionals in Mru


  • Rikker Dockum '04
    A Survey of Thai Monolingual Lexicography


  • Don R. Daniels '06
    Proto-Sogeramic: Comparative Reconstruction in Central Madang Province, Papua New Guinea


  • Scott Anderson '05
    Stress in Hindi
  • Lindsey Beck '05
    The Role of Pronoun Type and Gender Role in Children's Interpretation and Recall of Written Information
  • Lorraine Ferron '05
    Profs, Peers and Parlance: Evaluations of AAVE- and SAE-Fatured Speach in a College Setting
  • Lauren N. Hoehlein '05
    Is Maith an Scealai an Aimsir...: Irish Language Revitalization
  • Mark R. Samco '05
    Neural Correlates of Psychological Attributes Revealed Using Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Kevin A. Smith '05
    The Priming of Categories in Analogical Reasoning


  • Jesse R. Beach '04
    The Morphology of Modern Western Abenaki
  • Rachael L. Degenshein '04
    The Acoustics of Dholuo Interdentals: Implications for Domain-Initial Strengthening
  • Elizabeth E. Gannes '04
    An Assessment of the State of the Hawaiian Language after 20 Years of Revitalization Efforts
  • Peter S.E. Jenks '04
    The Syntax of Thai Quantifier Float: An LFG Perspective


  • F. John Motsinger III '03
    The Sound of Memory: Prefrontal Lateralization During Encoding of Verbal and Nonverbal Sound


  • Jennifer L. Conrad '02
    Structuring Oroqen Narrative: The Use of Tense-Aspect Markers
  • Sarah Finck '02
    The Pragmatics Implications of Cleft Constructions in Spoken French
  • Steven M. Lulich '02
    The Phonetics and Phonology of [v] in Contemporary Standard Russian


  • Michael Friesner '01
    The Representation of French h-aspiré From the Perspective of Loanword Phonology
  • Jessica Penchos '01
    The Relationship Between Language Lateralization and Visual Spatial Skills
  • Murphy Stein '01
    The Eye of the Swarm: Towards Arbitrary Reconfiguration in a Class of 2D Robotic Molecules
  • Laura Vacca '01
    Holding Their Ground? Language Preservation Efforts of the Shuar
  • Elizabeth Walter '01
    Visual Consciousness


  • Amy Pogoriler '00
    Transitivity and Topicality in Russian Lexical Inversion
  • Amy Tindell '00
    Conscious and Unconscious Cross-form Priming


  • Cynthia Anderson '99
    Possession in Evenki
  • Laura Gibson '99
    The Mozart Effect
  • Kristin Maczko '99
    A Model of Cortical Reorganization Following Frequency Discrimination Training


  • Kirsten Henschel '98
    Topic in Japanese: Subordination and the Disappearance of WA
  • Jeffrey Kohn '98
    Conceptual Change


  • Justin Cooper '96
    The Syntax of Coordination
  • Devyani Sharma '96
    Code-Switching in the Minimalist Program

Last Updated: 11/8/11