Spanish and Linguistics (BA)

Department Website

Program Description


The Department of Spanish and Portuguese is an interdisciplinary department focused on the language, cultural formations, and critical thought emerging from Latin America, the Caribbean, the Iberian Peninsula, and the Luso-Afro-Brazilian world. Spanish and Portuguese are among the world’s leading languages of culture, sociopolitics, and commerce. Once languages of empire, Spanish and Portuguese are now the lingua franca of important sectors of the Global South, and Spanish is the growing second language of the United States. We practice inclusive, decolonial approaches to language and translation; critical and comparative approaches to film, literature, performance, music, and visual art; humanistic engagements with historiography, memory, and archives; and we participate in debates in philosophy and critical and social thought, including Black and Indigenous perspectives from the Global South. Students are encouraged to study away at NYU Madrid or NYU Buenos Aires, where they may fulfill major or minor requirements through site-specific classes and immersive experiences. In addition, students participate in internships and collaborate on the online undergraduate journal, Esferas.


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

Writing an honors thesis allows majors to undertake advanced, independent research, analysis, and writing under close faculty guidance. By writing an original thesis, students participate in the production of new knowledge and critique, and make genuine contributions to our field. Engaging in self-designed research can be one of the most exciting experiences of a college career. Students with an overall and major GPA of 3.65 qualify. Those interested in pursuing joint honors in Spanish and Linguistics should consult with directors of undergraduate studies in both departments during or before the second semester of their junior year. 


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