Summer 2023 Linguistics Electives Without Pre-Requisites

Looking for an interesting elective to take this summer? The following courses are open to all students and do not require any pre-requisites. Most of these courses also fulfill your Breadth-Social Sciences (B-Soc) or Breadth-Science (B-Sci) requirements. 

NOTE: If you are a Linguistics major student, you cannot count these courses as part of your B-Soc/Sci requirements.  

Explores the foundations of human language from a variety of perspectives. Young children acquire language effortlessly. How is this possible, and why is it so much more challenging to learn a new language later in life? How does the human brain use complex grammatical systems to communicate? Students will learn new ways to think critically about language and communication. Open to all students. Breadth-Social Sciences.

Examines the relationship between language use and social structure. Considers how social factors such as gender, class, age, and ethnicity may be reflected in language use, as well as "big picture" topics that include multilingualism, dialect variation, language policy and linguistic stereotypes. Encourages students to think critically about the social dimensions of language. Open to all students. Breadth-Social Sciences.

Explores how language works. Introduces students to the systematic nature of language by exploring the patterns of sounds, words, sentences and meanings in English and other languages. Develops problem-solving and critical thinking skills through hands-on training in pattern recognition and language data analysis. Open to all students. Breadth-Social Sciences.

Examines “real-world” issues from a linguistic perspective. Topics may range across a wide spectrum: in-depth analysis of specific languages, social issues (stereotypes, inequality), business matters (linguistics in advertising, legal language), the role of linguistics in the technology sector, as well as more general workplace applications for linguistics. As topics examined may vary by term, this course may be repeated once for credit if the topic is different. Open to all students.

Summer 2023 Topic: Constructed Languages in Media 

For books, movies, and video games, languages are created to flesh out worlds, give its inhabitants a sense of identity, and create a sense of diversity among its inhabitants.

This course will explore some popular constructed languages such as Quenyan (Lord of the Rings), Na’vi (Avatar), Parseltongue (Harry Potter), Gerudo (The Legend of Zelda), Klingon (Star Trek) and more! We’ll learn about writing systems, the sounds in language, meaning in language, sentences in language, and social characteristics of language such as gendered language, honorific systems, kinship terms, and more.

Each lecture will consist of some background information in linguistics to get you familiar with theoretical language while also exploring those patterns in constructed languages. We’ll learn what is required for real languages and how constructed languages can break those rules.

Through practical assignments and a final project, you will be able to construct your own language for use in fiction and be able to compare how “realistic” it is compared to languages spoken in the real world. Most classes will have a workshop where you can work with your groupmate or on on your own to start creating your constructed language, get input from the instructor, and ask questions.