Language Science Minor

e25c3063-fb6c-4d49-a541-f2e2fb19fed5 | 129639

Overview

The language science minor prepares students for the study and analysis of human language. The minor 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 minor requirements irrespective of their skills in languages other than English. Electives allow students to customize the minor to their interests and needs, with the support of a faculty adviser. The minor is an excellent complement to majors such as computer science, game design, information technology, psychology, sign language interpreting, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, bioengineering, science, or a foreign language.

Notes about this minor:

  • Posting of the minor on the student's academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.
  • Notations may appear in the curriculum chart below outlining pre-requisites, co-requisites, and other curriculum requirements (see footnotes).

Curriculum

Notes about this minor:

  • Posting of the minor on the student's academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.
  • Notations may appear in the curriculum chart below outlining pre-requisites, co-requisites, and other curriculum requirements (see footnotes).
Course
Required Courses
ENGL-310
Introduction to Language Science
This course introduces the basic concepts of 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 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 humanities, sciences, and technical fields. Students will be encouraged to develop critical thinking regarding the study of 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 globalization and language endangerment, language and computers, and forensic linguistics.
Plus one of the following:
  ANTH-220
   Language and Culture
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.
   ENGL-351
   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.
  ENGL-356
   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.
   MLCU-301
   Special Topics: Psycholinguistics
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.
  MLCU-302
   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.
Electives*
Choose three of the following:
  
   A beginning ASL or foreign language course
  ANTH-220
   Language and Culture
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.
  ANTH-285
   American Indian Languages
With a focus on the indigenous languages of the Americas, we explore language contact among peoples, study various writing systems, and the sociolinguistic and cultural contexts in which these languages are spoken. Students learn how indigenous languages have been studied and classified. In addition to providing an overview of the languages' structural and typological attributes, we will also discover their histories as well as present-day challenges.
  ANTH-290
   Language, Sex and Sexuality
In exploring the relationships between language and sexuality, we investigate the language used by members of sexual minority groups, discuss how sexual orientation shapes language use, and examine the role of language in the social construction of sexual identity. We will focus on several aspects of the language used by and about gay men, lesbians, and bisexual and transgendered people.
  ANTH-305
   Investigating Language Change
All languages change through time, but how do they change? Where do these changes come from? In exploring traditional and contemporary approaches to historical linguistics, the study of language change, we compare different languages, different dialects of the same language, or different historical stages of a particular language, and investigate the history of languages and also language groups (or families). We investigate hypotheses about the grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation of languages long dead, and we explore how languages can give us insights to understanding human prehistory.
  ENGL-351
   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.
  ENGL-356
   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.
  ENGL-370
   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.
  ENGL-482
   Science and Analytics of Speech
This course introduces students to the fields of experimental phonetics, the scientific study of the sounds used in human speech, and speech processing, the study of the speech signal used in automatic speech recognition, spoken emotion detection, and other technologies. Students will learn about the physiology of speech production and perception, and they will acquire the skills necessary to accurately describe speech concepts and to analyze speech using relevant methods and tools. Turning to speech processing technology, students will explore automatic speech recognition, speech synthesis, speaker identification, and emotion recognition, and learn how our understanding of human speech production and perception informs these technologies. The course will have relevance to other disciplines in the humanities, sciences, and technical fields. This course provides theoretical foundation as well as hands-on laboratory practice.
  ENGL-581
   Introduction to Natural Language Processing
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 course work or instruction approval.
  ENGL-582
   Seminar in Computational Linguistics
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.
  ENGL-584
   Spoken Language Processing
This course introduces students to speech and spoken language processing with a focus on real-world applications including automatic speech recognition, speech synthesis, and spoken dialog systems, as well as tasks such as emotion detection and speaker identification. Students will learn the fundamentals of signal processing for speech and explore the theoretical foundations of how human speech can be processed by computers. Students will then collect data and use existing toolkits to build their own speech recognition or speech synthesis system. This course provides theoretical foundation as well as hands-on laboratory practice. Prerequisite: Programming skills, demonstrated via coursework or instructor approval.
  MLAS-596
   Linguistics of American Sign Language
  MLCU-301
   Psycholinguistics
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.
  MLCU-302
   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.
  MLJP-351
   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.
  MLJP-451
   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.
  MLST-499
   Special Topics: Modern Language
  PHIL-414
   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.
  PSYC-331
   Language and Thought
This course is intended for students in the cognitive track. This course examines the structure of human language and its relationship to thought, and surveys contemporary theory and research on the comprehension and production of spoken and written language. In addition, we will discuss categorization, representation of knowledge, expertise, consciousness, intelligence, and artificial intelligence. Topics on language and thought in non-human animals may also be covered. Part of the cognitive track for the psychology degree program.

* Students may also use special topic courses or independent study, if approved by the minor adviser.