Linguistics is the scientific study of language. There are many ways to pursue the study of language, and as in any scientific discipline, researchers have varied goals, distinct questions to pose, and different directions of research. Some linguists study the grammar, or rule system, of language, and others are more interested in the social factors, such as gender, age, ethnicity and other variables, that influence how we use language. Still others study how languages change over time, how children acquire language, or how our brains process and produce language. Communication in today’s complex society requires knowledge of the workings of language in general and of specific languages as well as their interrelationship with their respective cultures.
All linguistics majors are expected to acquire knowledge of the workings of language at various levels and demonstrate data analysis and other methodological techniques used to study language. A student of linguistics will thereby significantly advance their understanding of linguistic and cultural diversity and will have the tools to work in and across disciplines to explore questions related to language, and to therefore understand and advance what it means to be human.
Our mission is to pursue the scientific investigation of language as a human phenomenon in its historical, psychological, and social dimensions, through effective and innovative teaching and high-quality faculty and student research covering the major subareas within the discipline of linguistics.
The linguistics major engages the student in the scientific analysis of human language. Students analyze the structural components of language and study how language is acquired, how it varies across time and space, and how it is used in different social contexts. Students are introduced to various subfields of linguistics, including neurolinguistics, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, historical linguistics, computational linguistics, applied linguistics, and discourse analysis. Because linguistics is inherently interdisciplinary, students also develop a solid foundation in a language other than English. Our classes engage in critical inquiry and best research practices, thereby providing students with the necessary tools and experiences to follow their intellectual curiosity, to work across disciplines, to effectively contribute to evolving societal needs, and to become informed participants and leaders in public discourse about language and its role in our world, both locally and globally.
KRISTIN DENHAM (2000) Chair and Professor. BA, Swarthmore College; MA, University of Arizona; PhD, University of Washington. Syntactic theory, linguistics in education, psycholinguistics, Native American languages.
EMILY CURTIS (2016) Senior Instructor. BA, Pomona College; MA, PhD, University of Washington; Ed.D, University of Washington. Syllable phonology, metalinguistic awareness, linguistics pedagogy and outreach, Korean, Lushootseed.
VIRGINIA DAWSON (2020) Assistant Professor. BA, Australian National University; MA, PhD, University of California, Berkeley. Semantics, pragmatics, fieldwork, language documentation.
MCNEEL GORDON JANTZEN (2009) Professor. BA, MA, PhD, Florida Atlantic University. Cognitive neuroscience, speech perception, acquisition and reorganization of language.
ANNE LOBECK (1990) Professor. BA, Whitman College; MA, PhD, University of Washington. Syntactic theory, language and gender, language ideology and discrimination, language and identity.
JORDAN SANDOVAL (2020) Assistant Professor. BA, Western Washington University; PhD, University of Arizona. Experimental phonetics and phonology, the role of orthography in mental representations, and gender identity in language.
SHERYL BERNARDO-HINESLEY, Linguistics and Modern and Classical Languages. Hispanic linguistics, sociolinguistics, contact linguistics, second language acquisition, pidgins and creoles.
MASANORI DEGUCHI, Linguistics and Modern and Classical Languages. Japanese linguistics, syntax and semantics.
SHANNON DUBENION-SMITH, Linguistics and Modern and Classical Languages. Germanic linguistics, variationist, linguistics, dialect and regiolect syntax, historical syntax, Pennsylvania Dutch.
CHRISTINA KEPPIE, Linguistics and Modern and Classical Languages. Applied French linguistics, sociolinguistics, language ideologies, linguistic minorities, Canadian and Acadian French.
R. MATA, Linguistics and Modern and Classical Languages. Hispanic linguistics, morphology, morphosyntax, sociolinguistics, language contact, pedagogy, Spanish as a heritage language.
JUDITH M.S. PINE, Anthropology and Linguistics. Linguistic anthropology, semiotics, language and identity.
EDWARD J. VAJDA, Linguistics and Modern and Classical Languages. Morphology, language typology, historical-comparative linguistics.
BETH DILLARD, ELL Endorsement Program. Second language acquisition, Systemic functional linguistics, content-based language instruction.
JENNIFER GREEN, ELL Endorsement. English linguistics for educators, academic language, teaching methodologies.
JAMES W. HEARNE, Computer Science. General linguistics, computational linguistics, narratology.
BRIAN HUTCHINSON, Computer Science. Speech and language processing, machine learning, optimization.
YUDONG LIU, Computer Science. Statistical natural language processing, eye-tracking applications.
HEATHER MOORE, Communication Sciences and Disorders. Naturalistic language assessment and intervention. .
JENNIFER THISTLE, Communication Sciences and Disorders. Intervention for augmentative and alternative modes to communicate (AAC). Literacy development in children who use AAC.
KATHRYN VULIC, English. History of the English language, Old English in translation, medieval literatures and cultures.
How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process):
To declare, a student must have completed the following requirements:
- LING 201 or ANTH 247 or HNRS 217 with a grade of “B-” or better
- Minimum cumulative GPA of at least 2.5.
Students are advised to declare their major early in their academic career. Upper-division courses are restricted to declared majors. Transfer students should declare after completion of one of the core courses listed above. Students wishing to declare as a major or minor should contact the Linguistics Department Chair or Academic Department Manager.
A grade of C- or better is required for a student’s major or minor courses.
ProgramsUndergraduate MajorUndergraduate Minor
Courses numbered X37; X97; 300, 400 are described in the University Academic Policies