Program in Linguistics
- Adam N. Elga
- Boris C. Kment (acting)
Director of Undergraduate Studies
- Byron T. Ahn
- Byron T. Ahn, Council of the Humanities
- Adam N. Elga, Philosophy
- Laura Kalin, Council of the Humanities
- Joshua T. Katz, Classics
- Boris C. Kment, Philosophy
- Harvey Lederman, Philosophy
- Florian Lionnet, Council of the Humanities
- Gideon A. Rosen, Philosophy
- Esther H. Schor, English, ex officio
- David M. Bellos, French & Italian
- Adele E. Goldberg, Psychology
- Daniel Heller-Roazen, Comparative Literature
- Casey Lew-Williams, Psychology
Sits with Committee
- Christiane D. Fellbaum
- Dunia Catalina Méndez Vallejo
- Byron T. Ahn
- Laura Kalin
- Florian Lionnet
Linguistics is the scientific study of language and all its properties. Some of the core aspects of language that linguists study include:
- The physical manifestations of language as spoken sounds and gestural signs (Phonetics)
- The systematic patterns in those physical manifestations (Phonology)
- The construct of the “word” and the relations of its parts (Morphology)
- The structural organization of words into phrases and sentences (Syntax)
- The assignment of meanings to linguistic expressions in context (Semantics, Pragmatics)
Students at Princeton develop the skills of a linguist through hands-on engagement with gathering and interpreting data from many different languages, the employment of diverse methodologies, and the investigation of language through a variety of lenses, including:
- Working with native speakers of an unfamiliar language (Field Methods)
- Engaging with descriptive grammars and large-scale statistical correlations to investigate similarities and differences across languages (Linguistic Typology)
- Analyzing texts to elucidate how language changes over time (Historical Linguistics)
- Modeling linguistic differences across dialects and other social contexts (Sociolinguistics)
- Measuring linguistic behaviors in controlled experimental contexts (Psycholinguistics)
- Observing how languages develop/coexist within speakers (Language Acquisition, Bilingualism)
Beyond the linguistic knowledge mastered through such coursework, students of linguistics will gain a number of valuable skills that extend to nearly every domain, including: logical problem solving, gathering and organizing large data sets, recognizing patterns, making and testing hypotheses, and identifying problems in and prospects for analytical approaches and problem-solving strategies.
Admission to the Program
Students with a particular interest in language and linguistics can pursue an independent concentration in linguistics or a certificate in linguistics.
For the certificate, participants satisfy the requirements of their chosen departmental concentration and develop a complementary course of study in linguistics as outlined in the Program of Study section, below. The certificate program is open to undergraduates concentrating in any department. Interested students should plan a course of study and apply through the LIN Program website. Applicants will be accepted on the basis of interest and a coherent academic plan.
For the independent concentration in linguistics, interested students must arrange a meeting with the LIN director of undergraduate studies, no later than the fall of sophomore year, to discuss a program of study and to obtain an application. (Details of this independent concentration can be found on the LIN Program website.) Applications will be reviewed by the Office of the Dean of the College, and applicants will be notified of a decision early in the spring semester. The application is due in early December of the student’s sophomore year.
Program of Study
The program of study for the LIN certificate will be approved by the LIN program director or director of undergraduate studies. It will include completion of the following requirements:
1. Satisfactory completion of LIN 201/CGS 205, “Introduction to Language and Linguistics”. Ordinarily this course cannot be taken P/D/F. Permission may be granted to substitute a different LIN course in place of 201; decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.
2. Satisfactory completion of four additional LIN courses beyond 201, at the 200-level or above. At least three of the four courses should bear the LIN designation or be cross-listed with linguistics. Linguistics-related courses in other departments and programs may be approved on a case-by-case basis. At most, one of these courses may be taken P/D/F.
3. Some substantial aspect of linguistics should be incorporated into either the student’s junior independent work or into their senior thesis. If this is not feasible, students should contact the program director or director of undergraduate studies to discuss alternative arrangements such as (significantly) expanding on a prior linguistics term paper or undertaking a new (small scope) research project.
(Note: This program of study is for a LIN certificate, and is separate from the program of study for an independent concentration in linguistics. For the latter, see the LIN Program website.)
Certificate of Proficiency
A student who fulfills the requirements of the program with satisfactory standing receives a certificate of proficiency in linguistics upon graduation.