Introduction

What is language, and how does it work?  Linguistics is the field of study that explores the nature and structure of language, how it develops and changes, and how it is used to create and convey meaning as well as to mark identity and group affiliation.  At Lawrence, linguistics is an interdisciplinary area of study taught by faculty from multiple departments, affording students the opportunity to examine language-related questions from different disciplinary perspectives.

Core areas of linguistics include the study of sound patterns in language (phonology), the formation of words (morphology), and the structure of phrases and sentences (syntax).  Linguists also study how these structures relate to meaning (semantics) and how language is used in context (pragmatics).  Core courses for the major and minor include the study of phonology, syntax, and morphology or lexical semantics (word meanings).

Beyond the core are many subspecialties and closely allied fields that examine language types and variations (such as those related to geography, ethnicity, or social class), how language is produced and perceived, how people acquire their first and second languages, how people use language to perform speech acts (like insulting or promising), how computers process natural languages or are used to study language, and many more.  These fields are represented by elective offerings in the program, which give students the chance to explore diverse topics of interest.

The major in linguistics also requires language study beyond the general education requirements, which may be undertaken in a study abroad program.  Seniors integrate their linguistics knowledge and skills in a capstone Senior Seminar, which satisfies the program’s Senior Experience requirement.

For students seeking to teach English as a second language, whether in the U.S. or abroad, the program offers a separate minor in Teaching ESL, which may be taken on its own or together with the linguistics major or minor.


Required for the major in linguistics

A student who completes the major in linguistics will demonstrate understanding of theories and methods involved in answering questions about language and present and discuss findings of linguistic research, both others' and their own.

The major in linguistics requires the following:

  1. LING 150: Introduction to Linguistics
  2. The following courses:
    • LING 340: Introduction to Syntax
    • LING 350: Introduction to Phonology
    • Either LING 380: Introduction to Morphology or LING 335: Introduction to Lexical Semantics
  3. One of the following courses:
    • LING 325: Introduction to Sociolinguistics
    • LING 400: Philosophy of Language
    • LING 405: How to Do Things With Words
    • LING 470: Cognitive Linguistics
  4. Four additional courses in linguistics, which could include additional courses from #2 or 3. Students are encouraged to select courses that develop an area of emphasis leading to the Senior Experience.
  5. One of the following:
    • Study of two languages other than English, each for three terms (i.e. first-year level)
    • Completion of the fifth term of one language other than English (i.e. second-year level)
    • Study of one language other than English for four terms and the completion of an off-campus language program
  6. LING 650: Senior Seminar

Senior Experience in linguistics

Students satisfy the Senior Experience requirement in Linguistics by participating in LING 650: Senior Seminar, a course in which they identify a research question on a topic of interest, review relevant literature, and develop a research proposal. The course culminates in a paper and an oral presentation to faculty and students in the linguistics program. Students pursuing a double major are encouraged to find a topic that combines their interests in both fields.


Required for the minor in linguistics

  1. LING 150: Introduction to Linguistics
  2. Two of the following:
    • LING 340: Introduction to Syntax
    • LING 350: Introduction to Phonology
    • Either LING 380: Introduction to Morphology or LING 335: Introduction to Lexical Semantics
  3. One of the following:
    • LING 325: Introduction to Sociolinguistics
    • LING 400: Philosophy of Language
    • LING 405: How to Do Things with Words
    • LING 470: Cognitive Linguistics
  4. Two additional courses in linguistics, which could include additional courses from #2 or 3.

Required for the minor in teaching English as a second language

  1. Three courses in linguistics:
    1. LING 150: Introduction to Linguistics
    2. LING 360: Second Language Acquisition
    3. LING 362: The Structures of English
  2. Two courses in education:
    1. EDST 350: Ethnicity, Cultural Diversity, and Education
    2. EDUC 565: Methods in Teaching English Language Learners

Students pursuing teacher certification in English as a second language should consult the Education section of the catalog for additional certification requirements.