Linguistic Studies

Laurel Brook, Tomson 368

Because language is so fundamental to everything that we do, an understanding of linguistics is part of a well-rounded liberal arts education. In addition, the study of linguistics prepares students for careers and advanced work in fields such as anthropology, business, communications, computer science, education, English as a second language (ESL), foreign languages, journalism, neuroscience, speech and hearing sciences, philosophy, psychology, and other fields requiring analytical, communication, and research skills. Studying linguistics enhances your understanding of how language is organized and how it functions. The linguistic studies program offers a concentration that encompasses a wide variety of disciplines and perspectives on language. With a concentration in linguistic studies, you have the opportunity to explore the interdisciplinary nature of the study of language and linguistics as well as interact with and learn from others with similar interests.

Overview of the Concentration

Linguistic studies encompasses all areas related to the scientific study of the nature, structure, and function of language. Linguistic studies treats language both as a fundamental human faculty and as a changing social institution. The field of linguistics includes the relationship between language and logic, the underlying structures of the brain, social implications of language, language acquisition (including bilingualism and second-language acquisition), psychology of language, philosophy of language, dialects and dialectology, language and literature, the history and development of specific language families, human-machine interaction, artificial intelligence, and global communication and understanding.

Special Programs

In addition to taking courses, students can gain experience in the field and pursue special areas of interest in several ways. Full-time internships may be arranged during Interim. Internship possibilities include working in bilingual education, language immersion, or ESL programs in schools; assisting in language research laboratories; and exploring the world of publishing. Internships are valuable for confirming one’s academic interest in linguistic studies, learning new skills, and gaining paraprofessional field experience.

Independent study and research projects, usually completed during the junior or senior year, allow students to explore topics in greater depth than is possible in a regular course. In recent years, topics have included the study of American sign language, Spanish language immersion programs at the elementary school level, and the translation of psychological tests.

Students may also pursue their study of linguistics through off-campus coursework in conjunction with St. Olaf’s off-campus and international studies programs in locations as diverse as England, France, Germany, Norway, the People’s Republic of China, Russia, Scotland, Spain, and Tanzania.


The linguistic studies concentration consists of a minimum of five courses:

LNGST 250English Language and Linguistics1.00
Three approved departmental offerings at any level (with the requirement that students take no more than two of these three courses within the same department)3.00
One approved level III seminar or approved advanced study experience1.00
Total Credits5

Students wishing to receive credit toward the concentration through independent study, independent research, or internships should consult with the director of linguistic studies

Required Course

LNGST 250: English Language and Linguistics

Students learn about and analyze the English language, beginning with the building blocks of language: morphology, syntax, semantics, and phonetics/phonology. Students also explore the ways humans acquire language, social and geographical influences on English, and major changes during the history of the English language. The course serves as an introduction to the linguistics concentration, and fulfills the linguistics requirement of the Communication Arts and Literature license.
Prerequisite: FYW.

Other Approved Courses

ASIAN 126 Language in Japanese Society

ASIAN 240 Talking in Japan and the U.S.: Language, Identity, and Beyond

ASIAN 282 Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy in an Asian Context

ASIAN 300 Topics in Asian Studies (only when topic is East Asian Languages and Linguistics)

CSCI 121 Principles of Computer Science or CSCI 125 Computer Science for Scientists and Mathematicians or CSCI 251 Software Design and Implementation (at most, one of these)

CSCI 276 Programming Languages

CSCI 333 Theory of Computation

EDUC 245 Teaching and Learning English Grammar (0.50)

EDUC 250 Second Language Acquisition

EDUC 321 Teaching of Reading, 5-12 (0.50)

EDUC 345 Teaching of Communication Arts/Literature, 5-12

EDUC 347 Teaching ESL, K-12

EDUC 348 Assessment of ESL, K-12

EDUC 353 Teaching of World Languages, K-12

FREN 272 Contemporary France

FREN 372 Topics in Francophone Studies (only when topic is Translation: An Art or Science?)

GREEK 231 Intermediate Greek

GREEK 253 New Testament Greek

GREEK 375 Homer and Greek Epic

LATIN 231 Intermediate Latin

LATIN 235 Medieval Latin

LNGST 396 Directed Undergraduate Research

NORW 372 Topics in Norwegian Literature/Culture (only when topic is TV & Språk)

NORW 244 The Sámi: Traditions in Transition

PHIL 240 Formal Logic

PSYCH 222 Psychology of Hearing

PSYCH 237 Cognitive Psychology

PSYCH 339 Cognitive Neuroscience

PSYCH 396 Directed Undergraduate Research (when topic is Research in Auditory Cognition)

SOAN 234 Native North American Cultures and Religions 

SOAN 242 Contemporary Native American Issues

SPAN 270 Spain's Cultural and Linguistic Legacy (abroad) (when taught by Maggie Broner)

SPAN 274 Contemporary Issues in the Spanish-Speaking World (when taught by Maggie Broner)

SPAN 276 Spanish as a First and Second Language

SPAN 311 Language in Society

SPAN 315 Comparative "Hispanidades" (when taught by Maggie Broner)

THEAT 200 Training the Speaking Voice

Other courses may be approved in consultation with the director of linguistic studies.

Director, 2018-2019

Ying Zhou

Assistant Professor of Asian Studies

second language acquistion and language pedagogy

Maggie A. Broner

Associate Professor of Romance Languages - Spanish

Hispanic linguistics; culture; second language acquisition

Richard A. Brown (on leave Interim and spring)

Professor of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science

computer science; parallel/distributed systems

Heather Campbell (on leave Interim and spring)

Associate Professor of Education

ESL; reading; special education; Director of Assessment

Kris A. Cropsey

Instructor in Romance Languages - Spanish

Hispanic linguistics; sociolinguistics; second language acquisition; teacher education

Kari Lie Dorer

Associate Professor of Norwegian

Norwegian language and culture; applied linguistics; Sami studies; Nordic film.

Dana L. Gross

Professor of Psychology, Associate Dean of Interdisciplinary and General Studies

developmental psychology; off-campus study

Anne H. Groton

Professor of Classics

Greek and Roman drama; classical languages and literature

Rika Ito

Associate Professor of Asian Studies

language change and variation; sociolinguistics; language and gender; Japanese

Elizabeth A. Leer

Associate Professor of Education

English education; reading; curriculum and instruction

Julie M. Legler

Professor of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science


Jeremy L. Loebach

Associate Professor of Psychology

cognitive neuroscience; speech and hearing sciences; psycholinguistics

Karen E.S. Marsalek (on leave)

Associate Professor of English

medieval and early modern literature, especially drama; history of the English language

Steve T. Reece

Professor of Classics

Greek and Roman epic; classical languages and literature

Marc Robinson

Professor of Russian Language and Area Studies

Russian language; Russian film and literature; Russian theater

Gregory A. Walter

Professor of Religion


Jill A. Watson

Assistant Professor of Education

ESL; SLIFE education

Karen Wilson

Professor of Theater

theater; ethics and theater; directing; voice/phonetics

Ka F. Wong (on leave)

Associate Professor of Asian Studies

language pedagogy; cultural studies; Asian American studies; visual culture