Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

Linguistic Studies

Director, 2007-08: Maggie Broner (Spanish), Hispanic and applied linguistics

Faculty, 2007-08: Jan Hill (English), writing, journalism; Carolyn Anderson (Sociology/Anthropology), identity, kinship, theory, gender, Native North America, Western Europe, Scandinavia; Susan Bauer (Dance), movement analysis; Heather Campbell (Education), English as a second language, reading; Dana Gross (Psychology), developmental psychology; Anne H. Groton (Classics), classical languages and literature; Vicki Lynn Harper (Philosophy), ancient Greek philosophy, logic, ethics; Rika Ito (Asian Studies), Japanese language and linguistics; Karen Marsalek (English), medieval literature and linguistics; James M. May (Classics), classical languages and literature; Steve Reece (Classics) classical languages and literature; Matthew Richey (Mathematics), mathematical physics, computational mathematics; Marc Robinson (Russian), Russian language, Russian film and literature; Bonnie S. Sherman (Psychology), experimental psychology, perception and neuropsychology; Gary Stansell (Religion), Old Testament; Howard Thorsheim (Psychology), human cognition, learning, performance and systems; Gregory Walter (Religion), Theology and Philosophy of language; Karen Peterson Wilson (Theatre), theater, voice/phonetics, oral interpretation; Solveig Zempel (Norwegian), Norwegian literature and language

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.


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.


The linguistic studies concentration consists of a minimum of five courses: (1) English 274, English Language and Linguistics; (2) 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); and (3) one approved Level III seminar or approved advanced study experience. Students wishing to receive concentration credit through Independent Study, Independent Research, or Internships should consult with the director of linguistic studies.


In addition to the courses you may take, you 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 (a real asset on the job market).

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.


See descriptions in department listings.


English 274, English Language and Linguistics


Asian Studies 126/226, Japanese Language in Society (Interim)
Asian Studies 240, Talking in Japan and the U.S.: Language, Identity and Beyond
Computer Science 233, Theory of Computation
Dance 232, Movement Analysis
Dance 264, Movement and Dance as Cultural Expression
Education 246, English Language Learners: Issues in Education
Education 345, Teaching of Communication Arts/Literature
Education 347, Teaching ESL: K-12
Education 348, Assessment of ESL: K-12
Education 349, Teaching of Latin
Education 353, Teaching of World Languages
Greek 231, Intermediate Greek
Greek 253, New Testament Greek
Greek 375, Homer and Greek Epic
Latin 231, Intermediate Latin
Latin 235, Medieval Latin
Philosophy 240, Formal Logic and Philosophy
Psychology 237, Cognition, Learning, and Memory
Psychology 341, Infant Behavior and Development
Psychology 385, Human Neuropsychology
Sociology/Anthropology 234, Native North American Cultures
Sociology/Anthropology 249, Indigenous Peoples
Spanish 276, Spanish as a First and Second Language
Spanish 311, Language in Society
Theatre 200, Voice and Phonetics

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