Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It investigates the subconscious and systematic knowledge that speakers of a language possess. Such knowledge allows them to communicate and express thoughts, emotions, requests, hypotheses and other mental processes efficiently and effortlessly. At Connecticut College, the study of linguistics consists of an interdisciplinary program that focuses on the structure, the social function and the historical development of language. The minor is a natural complement to any major in which the nature of language is pertinent.

Why Linguistics?

Linguistics is a discipline ingeniously couched in the crossroads between humanities and social sciences—you assemble communicative signs and signals as products of human culture and proceed to examine them using scientific methods. It awakens in you the curiosity to look into words and phrases conveyed through the audio-oral channel or in writing, and supplies you with an analytical framework to make sense of them. You will see your understanding of an ordinary language activity broadened and deepened, generalized and abstracted, and eventually probed in domains ranging from phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics—the “microscopic” fields—to “macroscopic” ones that include sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and cultural, historical and computational linguistics. You start from the most taken-for-granted, subconscious daily experiences, and witness the unanticipated emerging from there! This is Linguistics.

American Sign Language

The Linguistics Program at Connecticut College is also the home of two elementary courses in American Sign Language, the primary language of many deaf and hard of hearing Americans. ASL is a natural language that uses hand configurations, place, and movement to communicate and is as complete and complex as any other spoken language.

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