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 course 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


LNGST 245: Roles of Language in the Context of Equity and Diversity

Why is language-based discrimination unnoticed and widely justified? This course explores roles of language in society with respect to equity and diversity by using the notion of language ideologies and language practices for negotiating identities. Students connect recent scholarship on language ideology and practices to their daily experiences. The course format is a combination of lectures, small group/class discussions, student presentations, and examination of multimedia. Offered periodically.
Prerequisite: LNGST 250.

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 thehistory of the English language. The course serves as an introduction to the linguistic studies concentration, and fulfills the linguistics requirement of the Communication Arts and Literature license.
Prerequisite: FYW.

LNGST 294: Academic Internship

LNGST 298: Independent Study

LNGST 394: Academic Internship

LNGST 396: Directed Undergraduate Research

This course provides a comprehensive research opportunity, including an introduction to relevant background material, technical instruction, identification of a meaningful project, and data collection. The topic is determined by the faculty member in charge of the course and may relate to his/her research interests. Offered based on department decision. May be offered as a 1.00 credit course or .50 credit course.
Prerequisite: determined by individual instructor.

LNGST 398: Independent Research

ndependent research is offered for students dedicated to an in-depth research experience. In conjunction with a faculty supervisor, a student conceives and performs a research project leading to the production of a major piece of work such as a research paper or poster presentation. Independent research requires permission of a supervisor and completion of an independent research form available at the Registrar's Office or its Web site.

Other Approved Courses

ASIAN 126 Language in Japanese Society

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 / PHYS 130 Analytical Physics I or CSCI 125 Computer Science for Scientists and Mathematicians or CSCI 251 Software Design and Implementation (at most, one of these CS121/PHYS130, CS125 or CS251)

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

EDUC 348 Assessment of ESL, K-12

EDUC 353

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 245 Roles of Language in the Context of Equity and Diversity

LNGST 396 Directed Undergraduate Research

MUSIC 263 Lyric Diction I (0.25) and MUSIC 264 Lyric Diction II (0.25) (must complete both to count as one)

NORW 244 The Sámi: Traditions in Transition

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

NORW 396 Directed Undergraduate Research: CAT Tools for Norwegian (taught by Prof. Kari Dorer only)

PHIL 240 Formal Logic

PSYCH 237 Cognitive Psychology

PSYCH 339 Cognitive Neuroscience

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

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)

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

Director, 2020-2021

Jeremy L. Loebach

Associate Professor of Psychology

cognitive neuroscience; speech and hearing sciences; psycholinguistics

Maggie A. Broner

Professor of Romance Languages - Spanish

Hispanic linguistics; culture; second language acquisition

Richard A. Brown

Professor of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science

computer science; parallel/distributed systems

Heather Campbell

Associate Professor of Education

ESL; reading; special education; Director of Assessment

Kris A. Cropsey

Visiting 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

developmental psychology; off-campus study

Anne H. Groton

Professor of Classics

Greek and Roman drama; classical languages and literature

Rika Ito

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

Karen E.S. Marsalek

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

Associate Professor of Asian Studies

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

Ying Zhou

Associate Professor of Asian Studies

second language acquistion and language pedagogy