Applied Linguistics





Linguistics is the scientific study of language as a general human ability and a study of the ways in which individual languages are structured.  Linguists typically draw generalizations from concrete data and then apply those generalizations to some aspect of a theory of how language works or how language is used.

Students who choose the Applied Linguistics concentration begin with our “gateway” courses: LING 210: Introduction to Language Structures (offered Spring semester only), which gives a grounding in phonetics/phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics; and LING 290 (offered Spring semester only), an introduction to the field of Applied Linguistics. In addition, LING 210 serves as a prerequisite for a number of upper-level LING courses, and so should be taken early.  After these, come our more technical courses, which cover the four structural areas of language more substantially, and explore ways in which linguistics reaches out to other disciplines (for example, sociolinguistics, neurolinguistics, language policy).

Programs offered in Applied Linguistics:

Students are advised to consult this tentative block-out of LING course offerings in planning their schedules (MLLI core courses / LING courses):


Linguistics for Majors in Other Disciplines

The study of Linguistics combines well with many other disciplines.  We recommend MLL/LING 190 and MLL/LING 191 “The World of Language” for all students who are interested in finding out about linguistics or in integrating an understanding of language into their general education.

Majoring in Anthropology?

Language is the central element of human culture. To understand how it works, you might consider taking LING 210, which has a focus similar to that which anthropologists adopt in dealing with culture. In addition, there is a strong body of new interdisciplinary work on language origins. Find out about this in MLL 190.

Majoring in Sociology?

The research that has revolutionized our understanding of the ways in which language symbolizes and defines social groups (often below the level of consciousness) is treated in LING 360. This course also gives you a chance to examine the speech variation that characterizes social groups in Maryland. MLL 230 treats the field that is often called “the sociology of language,” including topics like the assimilation of immigrant groups, multilingual societies, etc. LING 410 expands on some of these topics from the point of view of policy and planning.

Majoring in English?

English majors can investigate the ways in which our language has changed over time by taking LING 350. You may also be interested in learning about English dialects, both geographical and social, in LING 360. We recommend that English students take MLL 301, where they will acquire additional techniques for analyzing texts (literary and nonliterary, linguistic and visual and musical). Those who really want to know how English works may want to take LING 210, 310, and 320.

Majoring in Philosophy?

Philosophers and linguists have often talked at cross-purposes. One area in which they have reinforced each others’ work is pragmatics. Find out how language really works by taking LING 210. You may be interested in delving more deeply into Chomsky’s theory of language by taking LING 320.

Majoring in Education?

Future educators ought to take LING 360 in order to understand how dialect has an impact on social relationships, including those in the classroom. LING 290 has a strong focus on the ways in which people learn language at different ages. LING 410 treats language as a societal issue and deals extensively with language in education. Finally, LING 470 puts language acquisition into a broader context of cognitive development and dysfunction.

Majoring in Psychology?

Psychology majors may wish to take MLL 190 and LING 290, which focus on the psychology of language. On a more advanced level, LING 310 and LING 320 deal with questions of knowledge of language (the phonological and syntactic levels, respectively), and LING 470 explores theoretical issues pertaining to language and cognition.

Majoring in Computer Science?

Computer Science majors may be interested in MLL 190, which includes a segment on natural language processing. LING 210, LING 310, and 320 deal with the structure of natural languages, and LING 290 introduces cryptology and a number of natural language processing fields, such as machine translation, speech recognition software, etc.

Majoring in Political Science?

Political scientists and linguists have long had a common area of research in the field of language policy and planning. LING 410 is devoted to this topic. In addition, problems of ethnic and regional identity in the U.S. are among the themes covered in LING 360. MLL 230 deals with a wide variety of issues that relate to political science.

Useful links for those interested in language and linguistics:
Linguistic Society of America Resources for Students  A good way to get a sense of the field.  See also the LSA’s brochure Why Major in Linguistics (pdf file).
Ethnologue   Ethnologue is an encyclopedic reference work cataloging all of the world’s known living languages.

For further information about the MLLI Applied Linguistics program, please consult Linguistics area coordinator
Dr. Steven Young.