German and Linguistics (BA)

Department Website

Program Description


The Department of German offers a broad range of courses in the language, cultures, and literatures of German-speaking countries. Along with its German language program, the department offers interdisciplinary courses taught in English that address issues of German culture, history, philosophy, art, and literature for students not yet proficient in the German language. The department places high priority on fostering personal contact between faculty and students, maintains small class sizes (15 or fewer students, on average), and offers comfortable spaces for socializing, studying, and holding informal meetings. Advanced courses and some basic language courses are taught by full-time faculty members, all of whom are also involved in student advising.


Linguistics is the science of human language. It seeks to determine that which is necessary in human language, that which is possible, and that which is impossible. While linguists work to determine the unique qualities of individual languages, they are constantly searching for linguistic universals—properties whose explanatory power reaches across languages. The discipline of linguistics is organized around syntax (the principles by which sentences are organized), morphology (the principles by which words are constructed), semantics (the study of meaning), phonetics (the study of speech sounds), phonology (the sound patterns of language), historical linguistics (the ways in which languages change over time), sociolinguistics (the interaction of language with society), psycholinguistics, and neurolinguistics (the representation of language in the brain). Current research by faculty members extends across the field, including topics in the interaction of syntax and semantics, phonetics and phonology, languages in contact, pidgin and creole languages, urban sociolinguistics, and computer analogies of syntactic processes.

Joint Honors

Students interested in pursuing joint honors in German and Linguistics should consult with the German department as well as with the director of undergraduate studies in Linguistics, in or before the second semester of their junior year.


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