Linguistics and Cognitive Science


Distinguished Service Professor

Ernest A. Scatton, Ph.D.
Harvard University


Francine W. Frank, Ph.D. (Collins Fellow)
University of Illinois

Robert Meyers, Ph.D.
State University of New York at Buffalo

James Neely, Ph.D.
Yale University

Robert Sanders, Ph.D.
University of Iowa

Frank Vellutino, Ph.D.
Catholic University of America

Associate Professors

George Berg, Ph.D.
Northwestern University

Lee Bickmore, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles

George Broadwell, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles

James Collins, Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley

Laurie Feldman, Ph.D.
University of Connecticut

Cynthia Fox, Ph.D.
Indiana University

Andrew Haas, Ph.D.
University of Rochester

Brian F. Head, Ph.D.
University of Texas

John Justeson, Ph.D.
Stanford University

Millicent Lenz, Ph.D.
Northern Illinois University

Richard L. Light, Ph.D.
Georgetown University

Ronald A. McClamrock, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Stuart Sigman, Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania

Louisa Slowiaczek, Ph.D.
Indiana University

Silke Van Ness, Ph.D.
University at Albany

Rose-Marie Weber, Ph.D.
Cornell University

Maurice Westmoreland, Ph.D.
University of Illinois

Assistant Professors

Jeanette Altarriba, Ph.D.
Vanderbilt University

Joshua Dever, Ph.D.
University of California at Berkeley

Assistant Professor Emeritus

George Hastings, Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania

The linguistics major is designed to provide students with a basic understanding of the nature of human language and the principles and methods of contemporary linguistic theories. The major offers a liberal education which combines the approaches of the humanities, the social sciences and the sciences. It also provides appropriate preparation for those interested in pursuing graduate work in linguistics or related disciplines. The Program in Linguistics and Cognitive Science and the Department of Educational Theory and Practice offer a combined B.A./M.S. program leading to a bachelor's degree in linguistics and a master's in teaching English to speakers of other languages.


Linguistics majors compete favorably with those from other humanities and social science disciplines for entry-level positions in public relations, commerce, publishing and other fields requiring analytical, communication and research skills. Career opportunities for graduates also include computer programming, computer software development, editing, technical writing and dictionary-making.

Students planning to undertake professional study in such fields as law, public administration, public policy, speech pathology and education will find that course work in linguistics provides valuable preparation in analytical skills as well as an understanding of the social implications of language and attitudes toward language. For suggested sequences of courses appropriate to specific areas of advanced study or careers, consult the undergraduate adviser.

Special Programs or Opportunities

The possibility of studying a foreign language not regularly taught at the University is provided by A Lin 289, Directed Study in Foreign Languages. This course is open to any undergraduate student in the University. For current offerings, consult the undergraduate adviser.

The program also sponsors a minor in Linguistics and Cognitive Science (See Approved Minors section of this bulletin for details).

Degree Requirements for the Major in Linguistics

General Program

B.A.: 36 credits in the major field of study, including: A Lin 220M, 321, 322, 421 or 422, 429; one year of a foreign language (or A Lin 423, Linguistic Structures)*, as advised; additional credits, as advised, including a minimum of 3 credits at the 300 level or above; these are to be chosen from courses offered by the Program in Linguistics and Cognitive Science and from approved courses in other departments.

*This language should be of radically different structure from the foreign language chosen for the language proficiency requirement (See below.) Non-Indo-European languages are usually advised. Credits earned in A Lin 289 may be counted toward the 36-credit requirement only if used to fulfill this one-year language requirement.

Other Degree Requirements

Language Requirement: Majors are required to demonstrate competence in a foreign language equivalent to two years of study of skill courses in a foreign language at the college level. This requirement may be satisfied by course work or the passing of the appropriate examination. Credits earned for the proficiency requirement are additional to the 36-credit requirement described above.

Courses in other departments approved for the linguistics major. (Some of these courses may have prerequisites within the departments offering them.) Consult the undergraduate adviser of the Linguistics and Cognitive Science Program for modifications in this list.

A Ant 424; A Clc 125; A Com 373, 465; A Csi 101N, 201N, 310; A Eng 311L; A Fre 306, 406, 450; A Ger 312, 400; A Heb 203; A Phi 210L, 332, 415, 432; A Por 402; A Psy 301, A Psy 365, 381; A Spn 305, 402, 405; one of the following: A Gog 396, A Mat 108, A Psy 210, or A Soc 221.

Honors Program

Declared majors in linguistics who have completed 12 or more credits of A Lin courses may apply to the program by letter to the director of the Program in Linguistics and Cognitive Science. The requirements are as follows:

  1. The major GPA must be at least 3.5, and the overall GPA must be at least 3.25.

  2. Students are required to take 39 credit hours. In addition to satisfying all the linguistics major requirements, the 39 hours must include 12 credits of 400 level A Lin courses. Of these 12 credits, seven must come from A Lin 429 Field Methods in Anthropological Linguistics (4 credits) and A Lin 423 Language Structures (3 credits), which constitute a seven credit sequence involving original research projects. Three credits must come from A Lin 495 Honors Thesis (described below). The remaining credits can come from any 400-level Lin course.

  3. Students must take A Lin 495 Honors Thesis in which they write a major research paper. The paper can be based on new research or can be a major revision of a paper written for a previous A Lin class or independent study. This course should be taken during the final semester of the student's senior year, under the supervision of an appropriate member of the LINCS faculty. All students in Lin 495 will make an oral presentation of their research before submitting the final written version.

Combined B.A./M.S. Program

The combined B.A./M.S. program in linguistics and teaching English to speakers of other languages provides an opportunity for students of recognized academic ability and educational maturity to fulfill integrated requirements of undergraduate and master's degree programs from the beginning of their junior year. A carefully designed program can permit a student to earn the B.A. and M.S. degrees within nine semesters.

The combined program requires a minimum of 143 credits, of which at least 35 must be graduate credits. In qualifying for the B.A., students must meet all University and college requirements, including the requirements of the undergraduate major described previously, the minor requirement, the minimum 90-credit liberal arts and sciences requirement, general education requirements and residency requirements. In qualifying for the M.S., students must meet all University and college requirements as outlined in the Graduate Bulletin including completion of a minimum of 35 graduate credits and any other conditions such as a research seminar, thesis, comprehensive examination, professional experience and residency requirements. Up to 12 graduate credits may be applied simultaneously to both the B.A. and M.S. programs.

Students are considered undergraduates until completion of 120 graduation credits and satisfactory completion of all B.A. requirements. Upon meeting B.A. requirements, students are automatically considered as graduate students.

Students may apply for admission to the combined degree program at the beginning of their junior year or after the successful completion of 56 credits, but no later than the accumulation of 100 credits. A cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or higher and three supportive letters of recommendation from faculty are required for consideration. Students will be admitted to the combined program upon the recommendation of faculties of the Program in Linguistics and Cognitive Science and the Department of Educational Theory and Practice set up to administer the combined degree program.


A Lin 100M Understanding Language (3)
Meets General Education: SS
General introduction to all aspects of the nature and use of language. Language acquisition, language loss, language change, language in society. Films and television documentaries augmented by readings and written exercises. May not be offered during 1998-99.

A Lin 216 (same as A Eng 216) Traditional Grammar and Usage (3)
Thorough coverage of traditional grammar and usage with an introduction to the principles of structural and transformational grammar. Brief exploration into recent advances in linguistic thought. Practice in stylistic analysis using such grammatical elements as syntax, voice, subordination and sentence structure.

A Lin 220M (same as A Ant 220M & Eng 217M) Introduction to Linguistics (3)
Meets General Education: SS
Introduction to the study of language, including examination of the characteristics and structural principles of natural language. After exploring the basic characteristics of sound, word formation and sentence structure, these principles are applied to such topics as: language variation, language change, psycholinguistics, pragmatics, and animal communication. Only one of A Lin 220M, A Ant 220M, & A Eng 217M may be taken for credit.

A Lin 289 Directed Study in Foreign Language (4)
Study of a foreign language not regularly taught at the University; independent work with the guidance of a faculty member using recordings and other material; meetings with native speakers when possible. A limited number of languages may be offered in any one year. May be repeated for a different language or for more advanced study in the same language. Prerequisite(s): permission of undergraduate adviser.

A Lin 301 (Same as A Phi 301 & A Psy 301) Introduction to Cognitive Science (3)
Cognitive science investigates the nature of the human mind and cuts across several disciplines (e.g., psychology, computer science, philosophy, linguistics). This course examines the approaches these disciplines use to promote our understanding of various mental phenomena (e.g., perceiving, reasoning, production and comprehension of language, memory.) Only one of A Lin 301, A Phi 301 & A Psy 301 may be taken for credit.

A Lin 321 (same as A Ant 321) Introduction to Syntax (3)
The human ability to produce and understand an infinite number of different sentences is one of the most remarkable capabilities we have. The study of the structure of sentences is called syntax, and this course is an introduction to syntactic theory. The particular approach we will be pursuing is called generative grammar, the approach to syntax pioneered by linguists such as Noam Chomsky. Chomsky argues that all humans are born with an unconscious knowledge of Universal Grammar, the basis on which the grammars of all languages are built. Through a detailed examination of English sentence structure, we will investigate the connections between English syntax and Universal Grammar. Only one of A Lin 321 & A Ant 321 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): A Lin 220M or permission of instructor.

A Lin 322 (same as A Ant 322) Introduction to Phonology (3)
Introduction to the description and analysis of human speech sounds and their organization. Introduction to articulatory phonetics and the International Phonetic Alphabet followed by examination and generative phonological analysis of data from English and a wide range of other languages. Only one of A Lin 322 & A Ant 322 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): A Lin 220M or permission of instructor. May not be offered during 1998-99.

A Lin 325 (same as A Ant 325) Sociolinguistics (3)
Introduction to the study of language as a social phenomenon. Includes basic sociolinguistic concepts, interactional sociolinguistics, social dialects, black English, diglossia, bilingualism and bilingual education. Only one of A Lin 325 & A Ant 325 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): A Lin 220M or permission of instructor.

A Lin 421Z (same as A Ant 421Z) Advanced Syntax (3)
Meets General Education: WI
This course continues the investigation of the relationship between the grammars of particular languages and Universal Grammar. We will examine the syntax of several languages from around the world asking ourselves the following questions: a.) How do the principles which organize the grammars of other languages around the world compare to English? b.) What grammatical properties are true for all languages? We will discuss the answers to these questions in the light of generative grammar. Only one of A Lin 421Z & A Ant 421Z may be taken for credit. The former A Lin 421 & A Ant 421 do not yield writing intensive credit. Prerequisite(s): A Lin 321 with grade of C or higher. May not be offered during 1998-99.

A Lin 422 (same as A Ant 422) Advanced Phonology (3)
Advanced studies in generative phonological theory, with a focus on the analysis of prosodic phenomena such as stress, tone, and accent. Discussion of recent theoretical trends in phonology. Only one of A Lin 422 & A Ant 422 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): A Lin 322 with grade of C or higher.

A Lin 423 Linguistic Structures (3)
Investigation of the structure of a selected language, language family, or language area; may be repeated for credit when topic differs. Prerequisite(s): A Lin 321 or 322 or consent of instructor.

A Lin 425 Comparative and Historical Linguistics (3) (same as A Ant 425)
Language development and change. Language classification, linguistic reconstruction. Prerequisite(s): A Ant 220M or A Lin 220M or consent of instructor. May not be offered during 1998- 99.

A Lin 429 Field Methods in Anthropological Linguistics (4)
An introduction to the techniques of collecting and analyzing primary linguistic data from native speakers, taught through intensive examination of a selected language; may be repeated for credit with change in language. Prerequisite(s): A Lin 321 or 322 or permission of instructor.

A Lin 495 Honors Thesis (3)
Students in the honors program should enroll in A Lin 495 during one semester of their senior year. Students will write a major paper under the supervision of a faculty member in the Program in Linguistics & Cognitive Science, and deliver an oral presentation of their research. Prerequisite(s): Admission to the honors program in Linguistics.

A Lin 497 Independent Study in Linguistics (1-6)
Independent reading or research on a selected topic in linguistics, under the direction of a faculty member. Normally taken for 3 credits, but if the nature of the project warrants it, as many as 6 credits may be earned in one term; may be taken a second time, with approval, for a maximum total of 12 credits. Prerequisite(s): a 300-level course from the list of courses approved for the linguistics major; permission of instructor and director of linguistics program.

A Lin 499 Seminar on Topics in Linguistics (3)
Seminar on selected topics in linguistic theory and methodology, chosen on the basis of current interest; may be repeated for credit with change of topic. Prerequisite(s): varies with topic, usually a 300-level linguistics course: permission of instructor.

Undergraduate Bulletin — Table of Contents
University at Albany
State University of New York