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Linguistics and Cognitive Science

Chair: Lindsay J. Whaley

Professors H. S. Alverson (Anthropology), A. S. Clark (Psychology), K. N. Dunbar (Education and Psychology), B. Duncan (German), L. H. Glinert (AMELL), L. A. Grenoble (Russian), H. C. Hughes (Psychology), L. A. Petitto (Education and Psychology), J. H. Moor (Philosophy), B. P. Scherr (Russian), W. P. Sinnott- Armstrong (Philosophy), R. A. Sorensen (Philosophy), J. S. Taube (Psychology), P. W. Travis (English), K. L. Walker (French and Italian), G. L. Wolford (Psychology); Associate Professors I. Chitoran (Linguistics and French and Italian), H. Farid (Computer Science), D. A. Garretson (Russian), L. J. Whaley (Linguistics and Classics); Assistant Professors D. A. Peterson (Linguistics), C. J. Thomas (Philosophy), P. U. Tse (Psychology); Senior Lecturers M. Richards (English), D. M. Runnels (Native American Studies, Spanish); Lecturers A. H. Charity, T. J. Pulju (Linguistics); Visiting Professor M. Brenzinger (Linguistics).

The 2004-05 Steering Committee is as follows: Alverson, Chitoran, Grenoble, Moor, Peterson, Whaley (Chair).

Although the fields of linguistics and cognitive science are closely related, the course of study for each varies, and they comprise separate majors. Whether their interest is in linguistics or cognitive science, all students should consult with a member of the steering committee well in advance in order to plan a program that best suits their needs and interests.


Individuals who pursue a major in linguistics should take ten courses beyond the prerequisites, which are Linguistics 1 and a solid competence in a foreign language (this latter requirement may be met by taking two courses in a language beyond the first-year level). Linguistics majors are also urged to study a second language not closely related to the first.

The ten courses for the major should include the following:

1. Linguistics 22;

2. At least three additional courses in the 20’s (Linguistics 21, 23, 24, 25, 26);

3. At least two or more courses in Linguistics, including one that satisfies therequirement for a culminating activity, which may be met in one of three ways:

(a) completing a senior Honors thesis (Linguistics 87)

(b) taking an advanced seminar in linguistics (Linguistics 80)

(c) carrying out a one or two term independent study project

(Linguistics 85).

4. Depending on the number of courses taken under (b) and (c), up to four other courses, either from the Linguistics offerings or selected from the list below, in consultation with an adviser. Note that some of these courses are more suitable to those with an interest in formal linguistics, and others for those with an interest in natural languages or language and culture. Certain courses not listed here, such as advanced seminars in various departments, may also be counted toward the major with permission of the Chair.

Anthropology 9; Computer Science 44, 49, 68; English 18; French 35; Mathematics 39, 69; Philosophy 6, 26, 32, 33, 34, 35; Psychology 28, 51 (if special topic is relevant to linguistics), 68; Russian 62; Spanish 40.

The modified major in linguistics combines linguistics with another discipline in a coherent program of study. It has as its prerequisites Linguistics 1 and a solid competence in a foreign language.

The six courses for the linguistics portion of the major should include the following:

1. At least three linguistics courses in the 20’s (Linguistics 21, 22, 23, 23, 25, 26);

2. At least two other courses, chosen from the offerings in linguistics and the related courses approved for the regular major in linguistics;

3. A course which satisfies the requirement for a culminating activity, which may be met as for the regular major in linguistics.

Students who wish to modify another major with linguistics should take Linguistics 1 as a prerequisite. They should then take four other courses, distributed as follows: (a) two courses in the history or structure of natural languages (one of these will normally be Linguistics 15, 21, 22, 23, 24 or 25 and the other may be English 18, French 35, Russian 62, or Spanish 40); (b) one course in language and culture (Anthropology 9, Linguistics 17 or 40 [identical to Native American Studies 40]); and (c) one course in formal linguistics (Linguistics 21, 22, 23, 25 or 26, Philosophy 34, Psychology 28, or Psychology 51 [when offered as Psycholinguistics]).

The minor in Linguistics has a prerequisite of Linguistics 1 and then five additional courses. Three or more of the five must be courses taught in the Linguistics Program, and at least two of these should be numbered in the 20s. The remaining courses are to be selected in conjunction with the student’s adviser.


Cognitive Science is the study of cognition from the point of view of information processing. It combines the traditional fields of cognitive and physiological psychology, computer science, philosophy, and linguistics, among others. Topics of focus include perception, memory, reasoning, and language.

The cognitive science program is issue-oriented and relies on methods drawn from a number of disciplines. Students pursuing a major should become familiar with the basic approaches of psychology, philosophy, computer science, and linguistics; while the electives allow students to gain specialized knowledge in a particular area of cognitive science. Thus, with guidance of an adviser in the program, the student designs a course of study concentrating on such a field as computer simulations of psychological processes, computational linguistics, or philosophy and psychology.

The prerequisites for the cognitive science major are: (a) Cognitive Science 2 (identical to Psychology 28) and (b) Psychology 10 or Social Science 10 or equivalent


1. Linguistics 1

2. Computer Science 5

3. Philosophy 26 (Philosophy and Computers) or 35 (Philosophy of Mind)

4. Psychology 64 (Experimental Study of Human Perception and Cognition) or 68 (Human Perception and Cognition), or approved equivalent

5. One course that satisfies the requirement for a culminating activity, which may be met in one of three ways:

(a.) completing a senior Honors thesis (Cognitive Science 87)

(b.) taking an advanced seminar on perception and cognition (Cognitive

Science 81); or a relevant advanced seminar in Linguistics (Linguistics 

80) or Philosophy (Philosophy 80)

(c.) carrying out a one or two term independent study project (Cognitive

Science 85).

Electives: Five additional courses selected from those listed below. At least two of the four areas must be represented:

1. Psychology 21, 25, 26, 51, 52, 64, 65, and relevant seminars in Psychology.

2. Philosophy 6, 26, 27, 30, 32, 33, 34, and relevant seminars in Philosophy.

3. Computer Science 18, 25, 44, 49, and 68.

4. Linguistics 10, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26 and relevant seminars in linguistics.


The Honors Program in Linguistics and Cognitive Science offers qualified students the opportunity to undertake independent research under the direction of a faculty member. Students who plan to undertake such a project should have a 3.0 grade average in all courses taken at the College and an average of 3.3 for courses within the major. It is important to consult with a prospective adviser as early as possible, preferably during the junior year; applications to the Honors Program may be submitted to the Chair either during the spring of the junior year or the fall of the senior year. The project itself normally lasts two terms. Those concentrating in Cognitive Science will take either Cognitive Science 86 the first term and Cognitive Science 87 the second; special majors in Linguistics take the corresponding linguistics courses. The completed thesis is to be submitted during the spring term, and then an oral presentation is given at a special seminar of students and faculty.


1. Introductory Linguistics

04F, 05S, 05F, 06S: 12

An introduction to the description of human language and language use. The first part of the course will present methods used in characterizing the sound system of language (phonology) and the modification and arrangement of words in well-formed sentences (morphology and syntax). The second part will present approaches to semantics and pragmatics. Some important implications of linguistic inquiry for the study of human cognition and cultural behavior will be discussed. This course is prerequisite for all majors in linguistics.

Dist: QDS. Peterson, Pulju.

7. First-Year Seminar in Linguistics

Consult special listings

8. The Structure of Maori

05W: D.F.S.P. (New Zealand)

This course is an introduction to the structure of the Maori language. Emphasis is given to the morphology and syntax of basic Maori clause structure. The course is taught by a member of the Department of Maori Studies at the University of Auckland.

9. Spoken Maori

05W: D.F.S.P. (New Zealand)

This course is an introduction to spoken Maori. Emphasis is given to the phoenetic structure of Maori and the acquisition of oral and aural skills in the language. The course is taught by a member of the Department of Maori Studies at the University of Auckland.

10. Language Acquisition (Identical to Education 58 and Psychology 52)

05W, 06W: 10A

Human language is one of the most spectacular of the brain’s cognitive capacities, one of the most powerful instruments in the mind’s tool kit for thought, and one of the most profound means we as a species use in social, emotional, and cultural communications. Yet the breakneck speed and seemingly “effortless” way that young children acquire language remain its most miraculous characteristic. We will discover the biological capacities and the important social, family, and educational factors that, taken together, make this feat possible and establish the basic facts of language acquisition, involving children’s babbling, phonology, early vocabulary, morphology, syntax, semantics, and discourse knowledge, as well as their early gestural and pragmatic competence. Prevailing theoretical explanations and research methods will be explored. We will dispel myths of how bilingual children acquire two languages from birth. We will leave our hearing-speaking modality and explore the world of language acquisition in total silence-regarding the acquisition of natural signed languages-as innovative lens into the factors that are most key in acquiring all language. Critically, we will evaluate the efficacy of how language is presently taught to young children in schools in light of the facts of human language acquisition.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC. Petitto.

15. Historical Linguistics

05W: 2 06W: 10

An introduction to historical linguistics and the comparative method. Linguistic change on all levels (phonetic/phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic) will be studied, with special attention to the problems of historical reconstruction. The course will investigate families in general, with emphasis on the Indo-European languages.

Dist: QDS. Whaley.

17. Sociolinguistics

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S

The field of sociolinguistics deals with the ways in which language serves to define and maintain group identity and social relationships among speakers. In this course we will consider such topics as regional and social variation in language; the relationship of language and ethnicity, sex and gender; language and social context; pidgin and creole languages; language endangerment and the fate of minority languages in the US and other countries; language planning, multiculturalism and education.

Dist: SOC. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: CI. Charity.

18. History of the English Language (Identical to, and described under, English 18)

05S: 10

21. Introduction to Phonology

05S: 2

Phonology is the study of the system underlying selection and use of sounds in languages of the world. The course will introduce students to investigation of these topics from the perspective of recent theories of phonology. Readings, class discussions, and homework problems will provide a basis for understanding the origin, role, and uses of sound systems in spoken languages.

Prerequisite: Linguistics 1. Dist: QDS. Chitoran.

22. Syntax

05F: 2

This course aims to familiarize the student with some of the leading theories in syntax. We will begin with an overview of Structuralism (both American and Prague Schools) and move on to an in-depth examination of the so-called Chomsky revolution, from its beginnings in Transformational Grammar (TG) to current theories in Government-Binding.

Prerequisite: Linguistics 1. Dist: QDS.

23. Semantics and Pragmatics

05W, 06W: 11

An investigation in ‘meaning’ in language: word meaning, sentence meaning and its relation to syntactic structure, and the role of both linguistic and extra-linguistic context.

Prerequisite: Linguistics 1. Dist: QDS. Pulju.

24. Discourse Analysis

05S: 10

Discourse analysis examines linguistic structure that exist beyond the sentence level. In this course we will consider the structures of naturally occurring spontaneous speech (such as conversations, interviews, oral narratives) and those in written text. Special attention is given to the global priorities of connected speech and writing, including mechanisms of coherence and cohesion. Other topics include narrative structures, new and old information, topicalization, foregrounding and backgrounding, and the methods of conversational analysis and variation analysis. Dist: SOC. Peterson.

25. Typology

05W: 10

This course is an introduction to the field of language typology. We begin by exploring the core assumptions and methods of the discipline, and by reviewing typologies based on word order and morphology. Then, we examine a variety of grammatical categories and constructions including tense/aspect, case, relative, clauses, serial verbs, and switch-reference. Throughout the course we will also consider the sorts of explanations which have been put forth to account for typological patterns.

Prerequisite: Linguistics 1. Dist: SOC. Peterson.

26. Morphology

06W: 11

Morphology is the study of word structure and word-formation processes, and how these interact with phonology, syntax, and the lexicon.

This course focuses on analyzing morphological phenomena in a wide range of typologically diverse languages. Topics to be addressed include the place of word formation in relation to phonological and syntactic phenomena, as well as the contribution of morphological analysis to our understanding of lexical processing. We will consider the history of morphological theory in generative grammar, with special attention to recent approaches, including Distributed Morphology.

Prerequisite: Linguistics 1. Dist: QDS.

35. Field Methods (Previously listed under Linguistics 50)

04F: 10A

This course provides an overview of issues that arise in collecting language data in the field. We will examine techniques used in the gathering and analysis of data and practical problems that confront the fieldworker.

Prerequisites: Linguistics 21 and one other course in the 20’s. Dist: QDS. Peterson.

40. Introductory Native American Languages (Identical to Native American Studies 40)

05S: 11

This language course is intended to introduce beginning students to the fundamentals of the various families of Indian languages of North America. This panoramic course may serve as an introduction to the study of a specific Indian language, to the study of the relationship between language and culture, or to the study of linguistics itself. In addition it will provide a general description of the phonology, morphology, syntax, semantic domains, and grammar of Indian languages. Each student will choose one out of twelve grammatical sketches of particular Indian languages for closer analysis. Furthermore, we shall examine the history of the study of Indian languages and their classification by family, the dynamics of linguistic contact, discourse analysis, linguistic anthropology, and the issues of language extinction and preservation.

Open to all students. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Runnels.

50. Special Topics in Linguistics

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S

80. Seminar in Linguistics

04F: 2 05S, 06S: 10A

In 04F, The Khoisan Languages of Southern Africa. This course provides an overview of the Khoisan language family of Southern Africa. Students are introduced to the basic phonological and morphological characteristics of the languages, their current geographic distribution and some of the problems in classifying them. In addition, many of the social pressures on Khoisan communities will be discussed, including civil war, settlement, assimilation and AIDS. Finally, the nature of conceptual categories and how they are encoded in language will be examined using data from Khoisan languages.

This course is divided into two sections. The first section will provide general information about Khoisan languages and their speakers. The second section will focus on concepts underlying Khoisan languages and demonstrate that the formation of categories begins with fuzzy, prototype structures.

Prerequisites: Linguistics 1. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Brenzinger.

In 05S, Rules vs. Constraints in Linguistics Analysis. The last ten years have seen the emergence of a new theoretical framework in linguistics, one that sees language as a system of constraints rather than rules. Optimality Theory was originally applied to phonology, but has since gained relevance for topics in other areas of linguistics, including syntax, morphology, and psycholinguistics. This course is an introduction to Optimality Theory in phonology, with a focus on descriptive phonological analysis. In surveying the basic tenets of the theory, we will examine the relationship between linguistic description and theory. To what extent does a given theoretical framework affect the description of linguistic facts?

Prerequisites: Linguistics 1 and 21, or permission of instructor. Chitoran.

85. Independent Study and Research

All terms: Arrange

This course offers qualified students of linguistics the opportunity to pursue work on a topic of special interest through an individually designed program.

Requires permission of the instructor and the Chair.

86. Honors Research.

04F, 05F: Arrange

87. Honors Thesis.

05W, 06W: Arrange

Linguistics 86 and 87 consist of independent research and writing on a selected topic under the supervision of a Program member who acts as advisor. Open to honors majors in Linguistics. Permission of the thesis advisor and the Chair required.


2. Cognition (Identical to Psychology 28)

05S: 2

An introduction to the study of thought, memory, language, and attention from the point of view of information processing. In surveying research in cognitive psychology, substantial contact is made with related cognitive sciences, such as artificial intelligence, linguistics, neuroscience, and contemporary philosophy. In the course of examining general principles of cognition, the following topics are discussed: mental imagery; concepts; reasoning; discourse; monetary and courtroom decision making; eye-witness testimony; social attribution and stereotyping; language in chimpanzees; expert systems; the relationship between human and computer intelligence; the neural basis of cognition; the relationship between information processing and conscious experience; and the philosophical foundations of cognitive science.

Prerequisite: Psychology 1 or Computer Science 5. Dist: SOC. Kelley.

44. Artificial Intelligence (Identical to Computer Science 44)

05W: 10

An introduction to the field of Artificial Intelligence. Topics include games, robotics, Lisp, Prolog, image understanding, knowledge representation, logic and theorem proving, understanding of natural languages, and discussions of human intelligence.

Prerequisite: Computer Science 23 and 25. Dist: TAS.

85. Independent Study and Research

All terms: Arrange

This course offers qualified students of cognitive science the opportunity to pursue work on a topic of special interest through an individually designed program.

Requires permission of the instructor and the Chair.

86. Honors Research

04F, 05F: Arrange

87. Honors Thesis

05W, 06W: Arrange

Cognitive Science 86 and 87 consist of independent research and writing on a selected topic under the supervision of a Program member who acts as advisor. Open to honors majors in Cognitive Science. Permission of the thesis advisor and the Chair required.