Linguistics

The human capacity for language is a wondrous thing. Our Linguistics program allows students to explore, at many levels and from a variety of perspectives, how language works. Students of linguistics examine the structure, use, and development of the languages of the world. We aim to identify both those elements that are common to all human languages (spoken and signed) and the ways in which languages and dialects can differ from one another. Courses in phonetics and phonology reveal the sound patterns of language; morphology studies the composition of words; syntax and semantics focus on how phrases are put together and how ‘meaning’ is computed. Historical linguistics examines the evolution of linguistic systems over time. Courses in Romance Linguistics offer opportunities for language analysis at an advanced level and allow students to delve into the structure and evolution of French and Spanish and double major in French/Linguistics or Spanish/Linguistics.

An excellent Linguistics faculty (Profs. Peter AlrengaJonathan Barnes, Daniel Erker, Paul Hagstrom, and Carol Neidle) and an enthusiastic group of undergraduates — who also run the BU Linguistics Association — work together to try understand how we are able to express complex ideas in original and sometimes artful ways. There are also opportunities for undergraduates to participate in faculty research and study abroad.

The introductory linguistics course, CAS LX 250 Foundations of Language, offers an entryway to more advanced topics and allows students to become acquainted with the field of linguistics, as well as to understand interactions between Linguistics and many related disciplines. The vibrant Linguistics community in the Boston/Cambridge area affords the opportunity for students to attend lectures and conferences and participate in other local linguistics events.

The Linguistics Program is located at 621 Commonwealth Avenue.