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Language is a uniquely human capacity that enables us to communicate a limitless set of messages on any topic. While human languages can differ greatly in certain respects, all are intricate, complex, rule-governed systems. Linguistics is the scientific study of these systems, their use in communicative and other social settings, and their cognitive and neural underpinnings. The linguistics concentration at Brown gives students a background in the “core” aspects of the language system: phonetics/phonology (the study of speech sounds and their patterning), syntax (the study of combinatorics of words, phrases, and sentences), and semantics/pragmatics (the study of the meanings of words, sentences, and conversation). Beyond this, students may focus more heavily in one or more of these areas and/or explore related questions such as how children and adults learn language (language acquisition), how utterances are produced and understood in real time (psycholinguistics), or how speaking and understanding are anchored in underlying neural systems (neurolinguistics). Other areas such as historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, philosophy of language, and linguistic anthropology can also be pursued in conjunction with offerings in other departments.

Requirements (10 courses)

Prerequisite Course1
Introduction to Linguistic Theory (may be waived in special instances)
Required Courses2
Introduction to Phonological Theory 1
Introduction to Syntax 1
AND one of:1
Lexical Semantics
Formal Semantics
Introduction to Pragmatics
One course in Psycholinguistics to be drawn from the following:1
Language and the Mind
Child Language Acquisition
Language Processing
Language and the Brain
Neuroimaging and Language
Laboratory in Psycholinguistics
or any Topics Course in Language Acquisition or Language Processing
5 additional appropriate electives forming a thematically related set to be determined in consultation with the Concentration Advisor. At least one of these must be drawn from the list of advanced courses listed below, and we strongly recommend that at least one course be an appropriate methods and a topics course. No more than 2 of these courses may be drawn from below 1000 level courses. The electives can be drawn from any of the above courses, or any of the other linguistic/language related courses in the CLPS department. Electives may also be drawn from courses in other in consultation with the Concentration Advisor; a list of courses which standardly count towards the Linguistics Concentration (provided they form part of the thematically related set) is appended below.5
Advanced Courses
The Production, Perception, and Analysis of Speech
CLPS 1332
Issues in Syntactic Theory
Formal Semantics
Introduction to Corpus Linguistics
A course from the 1381 series (Topics in Phonetic & Phonology)
A course from the 1383 series (Topics in Syntax and Semantics). For example:
CLPS 1383D
Topics in Syntax and Semantics
A course from the 1385 series (Topics in Language Acquisition)
A course from the 1387 series (Topics in Neurolinguistics)
A course from the 1389 series (Topics in Language Processing)
Linguistic Field Methods
Neuroimaging and Language
CLPS 1880 series (Topics in Psycholinguistics)
Laboratory in Psycholinguistics
Other Courses Routinely Fulfilling Linguistics Concentration Requirements (in consultation with the Concentration Advisor):
NOTE: This is NOT an exhaustive list of courses that can be applied towards the Linguistics Concentration requirements.
Sound and Symbols: Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology
Sociolinguistics, Discourse and Dialogue
Playing with Words: The Linguistic Principles Behind Word Games and Puzzles
Introduction to Historical Linguistics
Computational Linguistics
Chinese: A History of the Language
History of the Ancient Egyptian Language
Sociolinguistics (with Case Studies on the Former USSR and Eastern Europe)
Philosophy of Language
Total Credits10

It is recommended that students take CLPS 1310 and CLPS 1330 before higher level courses.

Honors (12 courses)

Candidates for Honors in Linguistics must meet all of the requirements above, write an Honors thesis, and take two additional courses.  One course is normally CLPS 1980 (Directed Research in Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences) - intended for work on the Honors thesis.

Three of the total 12 courses must be drawn from the advanced list above (the Directed Research course counts as one of the advanced courses).

Normally a 3.5 grade-point average in the concentration is required for admission to the Honors program. Honors candidates should formalize their projects in consultation with their advisors by the end of September 6.

Refer to the CLPS Honors Program page for detailed information about the Linguistics Honors program.

Independent Study

Independent study is encouraged for the A.B. degree. Students should sign up for CLPS 1980 with a faculty advisor who is a member of the Department of Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences (CLPS). Arrangements should be made in Semester 6 for students expecting to do independent study during Semesters 7 and/or 8.

Do Foreign Language Courses Count?

Foreign language courses will generally not count towards the concentration requirements, except those that focus on the structure or history of the language. Students are, however, advised to gain familiarity with a foreign language, and are encouraged to take at least one course which deals with the structure of a language other than English.

NOTE:  Please refer to the Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences undergraduate Linguistics concentration page for updates not listed here.