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Undergraduate Catalog 2013-2014

Linguistics (LING)

College of Arts and Humanities
1401 Marie Mount Hall, 301-405-7002
Chair: W. Idsardi
Professors: N. Hornstein, H. Lasnik (Dist Univ Prof), J. Lidz, C. Phillips, P. Pietroski, P. Resnik, J. Uriagereka, A. Weinberg
Assistant Professors: N. Feldman, V. Hacquard, E. Lau, A. Williams
Instructors: A. Zukowski (Asst Res Sci)
Lecturers: M. Antonisse, T. Bleam

The Major

The Linguistics Department offers courses on many aspects of language study and an interdisciplinary major leading to a Bachelor of Arts. Language is basic to many human activities and linguistics relates to many other disciplines which include work on language.

Work on language has provided one of the main research probes in philosophy and psychology for most of the 20th century. It has taken on a new momentum in the last 70 years and language research has proven to be a fruitful means to cast light on the nature of the human mind and on general cognitive capacity. Several courses focus on a research program which takes as a central question: How do children master their native language? Children hear many styles of speech, variable pronunciations, and incomplete expressions, but, despite this flux of experience, they come to speak and understand speech effortlessly, instantaneously, and subconsciously. Research aims to discover how this happens, how a person's linguistic capacity is represented in the mind, and what the genetic basis for it is. Students learn how various kinds of data can be brought to bear on their central question and how that question influences the shape of technical analyses.

The major in Linguistics is designed for students who are primarily interested in human language per se, or in describing particular languages in a systematic and psychologically plausible way, or in using language as a tool to reveal some aspect of human mental capacities. Such a major provides useful preparation for professional programs in foreign languages, language teaching, communication, psychology, speech pathology, and artificial intelligence (and thus in computer work).

Program Learning Outcomes

The Department of Linguistics B.A. program seeks to expose majors to fundamental questions about the nature of the human mind, using Language as a vehicle for examining this issue. The program aims to cultivate strong empirical research skills, data analysis, application of scientific methodology, and the ability to communicate clear, logical arguments.

  1. Students can analyze a sentence from English or another language, providing a syntactic parse tree and evidence for their analysis.
  2. Students can provide a phonological analysis of any language given a sufficient data set (including data from non-Western languages).
  3. Students understand and can reproduce arguments for the existence of mental grammar.
  4. Students understand and can reproduce arguments for a genetic component of human language.
  5. Students can apply the scientific method to data analysis. Specifically, they can formulate generalizations, specify the predictions of a hypothesis with respect to independent generalizations, and test predictions.

Academic Programs and Departmental Facilities

Students can become involved in a wide range of research activities including computer programming and experimental projects in language acquisition , psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics . Selected undergraduate students work alongside faculty and graduate students—learning to design, execute, and analyze experiments—within our Language Acquisition Lab and our Cognitive Neuroscience of Language Laboratory . For more information about ongoing research, lab facilities, and opportunities for undergraduate involvement, go to the following web pages:




Requirements for the Major

A grade of at least 'C-' is required in all major courses.

An overall GPA of 2.0 in the major is required for graduation.

  Core required of all majors:  15
LING240 Language and the Mind 3
LING311 Syntax I 3
LING321 Phonology I 3
  Two from: 6
LING312 Syntax II  
LING322 Phonology II  
LING330 Historical Linguistics  
LING410 Grammar and Meaning  
LING420 Word Formation  
HESP403 Introduction to Phonetic Science  
  Grammars and Cognition Track  24
LING350 Philosophy of Language 3
PSYC100 Introduction to Psychology 3
PSYC341 Introduction to Memory and Cognition 3
  One from: 3
PHIL170 Introduction to Logic  
PHIL271 Symbolic Logic I  
  Linguistics Electives 6
LING two upper level LING electives  
  Electives 6
ELECT two electives in LING, PSYC, HESP, PHIL, or CMSC
  Language Track  24
LANG 15 credits of a single chosen language 15
LANG 3 credits in structure or history of the language 3
  Linguistics Electives  
LING two upper level LING electives 6

There are no requirements for support courses for the Linguistics major.

Other Requirements for the Major

  • LING 240 must be taken before any other courses in the major; this course serves as a gateway to the major. A grade of C- or better is required in this course before taking further courses in Linguistics. However, a grade of B or higher in Ling240 is a relatively good predictor of continued success in the rest of the major (as courses become more difficult). LING 240 is offered every semester.
  • After LING 240, students should take LING 311 (Syntax I) and LING 321 (Phonology I), as they are prerequisites for other required courses. These courses can be taken together in the same semester.
  • LING 312 (Syntax II) and LING 322 (Phonology II) are generally only offered in the Spring.
  • LING 410 (Grammar and Meaning) is only offered once per year.
  • Optional courses for the major are not necessarily offered on a regular basis. Students should check with the undergraduate advisor to find out which courses will be offered and when.
  • A grade of C- or better is required in prerequisite courses.
  • For the Language Track, the "15 credits of a single chosen language" must be courses that focus on language (and not, for example, history, literature or culture taught in the language).
  • The "structure or history of the language" course is a linguistics course that focuses on the chosen language. This course must be approved by the linguistics advisor. If no such course is offered by the language department, the linguistics advisor will suggest a substitute.
  • Electives for the Cognition Track must be approved by the linguistics advisor.

Requirements for the Minor

15 credit hours: LING 200, 240, 321, 311, and one upper level linguistics elective.
All courses presented for the minor must be passed with a grade of 'C-' or better. An overall GPA of 2.0 in the minor is required for graduation.

To make an appointment to explore or declare a minor, go to www.arhu.umd.edu/undergraduate/academics/minors

Undergraduate Research Experiences

There are opportunities in the department for undergraduate students to get involved in doing research. Students interested in research in linguistics should submit a resume and/or project proposal to the undergraduate advisor or to an appropriate faculty member. Attempts will be made to match students with appropriate faculty advisors. The possibility of doing research is not guaranteed for every student, but will depend on the student's skills and the availability and willingness of a faculty member to direct the project.
In addition to opportunities during the regular semester to receive course credit for research assistantships, students can also apply for funding to work as a research assistant during the summer through the Linguistics Department Baggett Scholarship program. (More information about the Baggett summer program can be found on the website at: www.ling.umd.edu/baggett/)

Honors Program

Academically talented Linguistics majors with junior standing may petition to become honors candidates in Linguistics. Honors students work on a research project under a faculty advisor, write an honors thesis, and present the work in a public forum.

Student Societies and Professional Organizations

The UMD undergraduate linguistics club is called the Association of Student Linguists. Information can be obtained by emailing: asl.linguists@gmail.com

Scholarships and Financial Assistance

The Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) administers all types of federal, state and institutional financial assistance programs and, in cooperation with other university offices, participates in the awarding of scholarships to deserving students. For information, visit: www.financialaid.umd.edu. Students can apply for a Linguistics Department Baggett Scholarship to work (in a paid position) as a research assistant during the summer.

Awards and Recognition

The Department of Linguistics offers several Baggett Summer Scholarships every year. These are paid, faculty-mentored summer research positions open to UMD undergraduate students with training in linguistics or cognitive science.
More information can be found on the website at: www.ling.umd.edu/baggett/

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