Apr 14, 2024  
2024-25 Catalog 
2024-25 Catalog


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Go to: Division of Philosophy, Religion, Psychology, and Linguistics  


Kara Becker
Sociolinguistics, American regional dialects, social practice and identity construction, language and gender, language and discrimination.

Sameer ud Dowla Khan
Phonology, phonetics, intonation/prosody, reduplication, laboratory phonology, voice quality and phonation, speech acoustics, Bengali and other South Asian languages.

Matthew Pearson
Formal linguistic theory, syntax, typology and language description, phonology, morphology, the syntax-semantics interface, Austronesian languages. 


Linguistics is the study of human language: its form, variety, and social life. Human language may be studied from a variety of perspectives, whether as a complex social behavior; as a medium for creating and embodying social meaning and identity; or as the instantiation of a highly structured system of knowledge within the mind of the language user (a mental grammar), which can be investigated empirically and modeled formally. Starting from the detailed description of phonological, morphological, syntactic, and semantic patterns in the world’s languages, linguists seek to discover general principles governing the structure and use of language. Research in linguistics encompasses theories of language universals and language variation across space and time, how grammar evolved in the species and develops in the individual, and how language is used to create and perform social relationships.

With its focus on language as a unique facet of human nature, linguistics bridges the divide between the cognitive sciences and the social sciences, and interfaces with the humanities, mathematics, logic, and philosophy. Linguistic concepts have contributed to the study of style and rhetoric, genre and register, poetic meter, and metaphor, thereby enhancing our understanding of literature. The techniques of linguistic analysis provide a window into the ideas of other cultures, whether distant in space and time or close to home, and thus contribute to the study of history and anthropology. Linguistic semantics has informed our understanding of the relationship of logic to language, and has influenced (and been influenced by) research in philosophy and mathematics. Finally, discoveries in linguistics have made major contributions to the development of cognitive science, and have applications in fields as diverse as neuroscience, evolutionary biology, speech and hearing technologies, computer science and artificial intelligence.

Reed offers a variety of linguistics and linguistics-related courses. In addition to introductory courses in formal analysis and sociocultural linguistics, more specific offerings deal with particular areas of analysis (phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics/pragmatics), as well as sociolinguistics, language typology, phonological and syntactic theory, and research methods. Courses are also offered periodically on the structure of less familiar languages and language families. Linguistics at Reed has an interdisciplinary orientation: through the allied field and language requirements, students are encouraged to develop links to other fields, including anthropology, psychology, philosophy, mathematics, biology, sociology, and classical and modern languages and literatures. Students may also have the opportunity to engage in linguistic fieldwork and laboratory research.

Admission to the Major

After passing LING 211  and LING 212  (or equivalent courses), the prospective linguistics major must present a plan of study to the department for approval.




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