Language Science Immersion

Overview for Language Science Immersion

The language science immersion prepares students in the interdisciplinary scientific study and analysis of human language. Language science is directly applicable to students interested in computing and media, human-computer interaction, brain and cognition, language acquisition, human health, interpreting, relevant branches of engineering, and policy studies. Students can complete the immersion irrespective of their skills in languages other than English. Besides a core course on linguistic principles, students choose electives covering the technology of language, philosophy of language, and language in culture and society. Electives allow students to customize the immersion to their interests and needs, with the support of a faculty adviser.

Notes about this immersion:

  • This immersion is closed to students majoring in English who have chosen a concentration in linguistics.

The plan code for Language Science Immersion is LANGSCI-IM.

Curriculum for 2023-2024 for Language Science Immersion

Current Students: See Curriculum Requirements

Required Course
Choose one of the following:
 Introduction to Linguistics
This course introduces students to linguistics, which is the scientific study of human languages. Students will be introduced to core linguistic disciplines (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics) and to principles and methods of linguistics through discussion and the analysis of a wide range of linguistic data based on current linguistic models. English will often serve as the reference language, but we will discuss a wide variety of languages, including sign languages, to illustrate core concepts in linguistics. The course will have relevance to other disciplines in the liberal arts and sciences as well as technical fields. Students will critically study human languages through discussions of the origins of languages, how languages are acquired, their organization in the brain, and languages' socio-cultural roles. Some other topics that will be introduced are: language endangerment, language and computers, and artificially constructed languages in the film or fiction industry. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Choose two of the following:
 Language and Culture: Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology
Language is a core element of culture, both as a repository of meaning, and also because it is the primary means through which humans carry out social relationships, share ideas, and contest received understandings. Linguistic anthropology investigates this interplay between language and culture. Topics will vary by semester, and may include metaphor and narrative; language acquisition in relationship to childhood socialization; language, thought, and worldview; language and identity; multilingualism; the social contexts of language change; literacy; and the politics of language use and language ideologies. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
Evolving English Language
What makes the English language so difficult? Where do our words come from? Why does Old English look like a foreign language? This course surveys the development of the English language from its beginning to the present to answer such questions as these. Designed for anyone who is curious about the history and periods of the English language or the nature of language change. Lecture 3 (Spring).
This course introduces main subfields of psycholinguistics, a study that deals with all aspects of human language performance: language acquisition, sentence processing/comprehension, and sentence production/speaking. Through readings on theoretical and experimental studies, findings and issues in first language acquisition, sentence processing, and sentence production are introduced. By discussing how speakers of different languages acquire, comprehend, and produce sentences, the course also examines interactions with language-specific, linguistic constraints and human language performances. Lecture 3 (Spring).
 Introduction to Syntax
This course examines the foundational abstract rules, principles, and processes of sentence structure from a cross-linguistic perspective. It explores how different linguistic units, e.g. morphemes, words, and phrases, are combined into syntactic grammatical sentences. This course introduces techniques of syntactic analyses and allows students to address empirical questions regarding syntactic properties of different languages. Topics covered include phrase structures, grammatical relations, and transformations. Lecture 3 (Biannual).
Language Technology
We will explore the relationship between language and technology from the invention of writing systems to current natural language and speech technologies. Topics include script decipherment, machine translation, automatic speech recognition and generation, dialog systems, computational natural language understanding and inference, as well as language technologies that support users with language disabilities. We will also trace how science and technology are shaping language, discuss relevant artificial intelligence concepts, and examine the ethical implications of advances in language processing by computers. Students will have the opportunity to experience text analysis with relevant tools. This is an interdisciplinary course and technical background is not required. Lecture 4 (Spring).
 Meaning in Language
In this course, students will learn about linguistic methods for characterizing meaning considering words, sentences, conversation, and language in situational contexts. The class will examine these topics in English and across languages and cultures, studying different linguistic frameworks for describing meaning, including debates among them. We will explore the link between verbal and non-verbal semantics, and apply systematic meaning description and analysis to literary production, advertising, clinical interactions, entertainment, and digital media discourse. Lecture 3 (Biannual).
 Natural Language Processing I
This course provides theoretical foundation as well as hands-on (lab-style) practice in computational approaches for processing natural language text. The course will have relevance to various disciplines in the humanities, sciences, computational, and technical fields. We will discuss problems that involve different components of the language system (such as meaning in context and linguistic structures). Students will additionally collaborate in teams on modeling and implementing natural language processing and digital text solutions. Students will program in Python and use a variety of relevant tools. Expected: Programming skills, demonstrated via coursework or instruction approval. Lecture 3 (Spring).
 Natural Language Processing II
Study of a focus area of increased complexity in computational linguistics. The focus varies each semester. Students will develop skills in computational linguistics analysis in a laboratory setting, according to professional standards. A research project plays a central role in the course. Students will engage with relevant research literature, research design and methodology, project development, and reporting in various formats. (Prerequisites: ENGL-581 or LING-581 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
 Linguistics of American Sign Language
This course will introduce students to the study of American Sign Language (ASL) in terms of its linguistic structure and use. Students will learn to analyze the basic features of ASL phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and discourse. In addition, students will review research related to variations of ASL (e.g., Black ASL), historical linguistics, and ASL acquisition. Please note that fluency in ASL is required for this course, as instruction is in ASL (an interpreter will not be provided). (Prerequisites: MLAS-302 or MLAS-401 or MLAS-402 or INTP-225 or INTP-226 or INTP-325 or INTP-326 or equivalent course or a minimum score of 4 on the Language Placement Exam.) Seminar 3 (Fall, Spring).
Languages in Japanese Society
This course aims to introduce students to modern Japanese society, its rich cultural heritage, and the use of Japanese language that reflects the societal norms. It provides students with a fundamental yet diverse knowledge of Japanese culture and Japanese language use. Course work will include lectures, readings, discussions, and working with multi-media resources. Knowledge of Japanese helpful but not necessary. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Structure of the Japanese Language
This course aims to increase student understanding of basic characteristics of the Japanese language. Topics include the genetic affiliation of the Japanese language, sound system, word formation, syntactic structures, socio-cultural factors in language use, and historical development of the writing system. Students will become acquainted with the language from a linguistics perspective and develop analytical skills by solving linguistic problems pertinent to Japanese language. (Prerequisites: Minimum score of 2 on RIT Language Placement Exam or MLJP-202 or MLJP-202T or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
 Special Topic Modern Lng*
This upper-level course will focus on a specific theme or topic in modern languages, chosen by the instructor, announced in the subtitle, and developed in the syllabus. The topics of this course will vary, but the course number will remain the same, so be sure not to repeat the same topic. Seminar 4 (Spring).
Philosophy of Language
This course examines how philosophers and others have understood the nature of language. It explores the classical philosophical contexts in metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics and rhetoric in which concerns about the nature of language arose. In addition, the course focuses on recent debates, within both contemporary analytic and continental traditions of philosophy. Some likely areas of inquiry will be: theories of reference, description and naming; theories of meaning, metaphor and narrative; functionalist, pragmatist and naturalist accounts; structuralist, post-structuralist, and hermeneutic accounts, among others. The prominence of one or the other of these debates and approaches will vary. (Prerequisites: Completion of one course in philosophy is required.) Lecture 3 (Spring).

* This course may be used when the topic focuses on linguistics.