Hispanic Linguistics Concentration (M.A. and Ph.D)

The Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics offers MA and PhD degrees in Spanish with a concentration in Hispanic Linguistics. At the MA level, we also offer an option combining Hispanic Linguistics and Literature.

Our Hispanic Linguistics faculty specialize and offer courses in Bilingualism/Language Contact, Phonetics/Phonology, Psycholinguistics (Lexical and Sentence Processing), Second Language Acquisition, Sociolinguistics, and Syntax. In addition, our department offers courses in Computational Linguistics, Descriptive Linguistics, Heritage Language Acquisition, and Historical Linguistics.

Our facilities include:

  • A Language Processing and Eye-tracking lab 
  • A Phonetics lab
  • A Psycholinguistics lab
  • A Second Language Acquisition lab

Course Descriptions

Note: The courses marked with * are the minimum requirements for the MA exam in that area. The exam might include content from other courses in that area.

SPN 5734.* Spanish Sociolinguistics. (Muntendam) This course is an introduction to sociolinguistics, with a special emphasis on Spanish in Spain, Latin America and the United States. Topics include sociolinguistic theory and methodology, linguistic attitudes, phonological variation, syntactic and morphosyntactic variation, the relationship between language and social factors (e.g., social class, gender, and ethnic identity), language variation and change, and bilingualism and language contact. (Minimum requirement for the MA exam in Sociolinguistics)

SPN 5776. Acquisition of Spanish Phonology. (González) This course is an introduction to the fundamental theories, techniques and methodologies concerning the acquisition of phonetics and phonology in a second language, and their application to Spanish. It surveys seminal and current research on the acquisition of Spanish phonology, and explores instructional strategies that can be used in teaching Spanish pronunciation.

SPN 5785. Acoustics Phonetics of Spanish. (González) This course provides a thorough background in acoustic phonetics and its application in the description and analysis of Spanish sounds. It also offers an overview of the acoustic characteristics of Spanish sounds and suprasegmentals, and how they compare to English.

SPN 5795.* Spanish Phonology. (González) This course presents an overview of the articulation, acoustics and transcription of Spanish sounds, compares sound patterns across Spanish dialects, and analyzes them using recent phonological theories, including Generative phonology, Autosegmental phonology, and Optimality Theory. (Minimum requirement for the MA exam in Phonology)

SPN 5805.* Spanish Morphosyntax. (Reglero) This course offers an overview of Spanish syntax from an early generative perspective (Chomsky 1981, 1986). In the course, we will provide an in-depth analysis of selected syntactic phenomena such as the Noun Phrase, the Verb Phrase, the sentence, word order and ellipsis. (Minimum requirement for the MA exam in Syntax)

SPN 5845. History of the Spanish Language. (González) This course examines the origin of Spanish and the linguistic changes that took place from Latin to Early, Medieval and Modern Spanish, comparing them to those undergone by related dialects, co-dialects and languages, including Judeo-Spanish (Ladino), Leonés, Aragonés, Galician and Catalan.

LIN 5045. Descriptive Linguistics. (González, Muntendam, Reglero) This course focuses on language typology and the analytical skills and techniques used to examine and interpret linguistic data. It also discusses issues involved in language endangerment and loss.

LIN 5215. Sounds of the World’s Languages. (González) This course presents a comprehensive overview of the sounds found in the world’s languages. It will describe their articulatory and acoustic characteristics and will provide practice pronouncing and distinguishing them perceptually. In addition, we will learn how to interpret articulatory, aerodynamic and acoustic displays and how to transcribe all human sounds using the International Phonetic Alphabet.

LIN 5305. Patterns of Sounds. (González) This course explores the patterning of sounds across languages from a typological and theoretical perspective. It shows how sounds are organized in various prosodic domains, from syllables and feet to phonological words and phrases, and introduces the main frameworks used for phonological analysis: generative phonology; auto-segmental phonology; and constraint-based phonological approaches.

LIN 5510. Transformational Grammar. (Reglero) This course is an introduction to syntax, that is, the study of the structure of sentences. In this course, we will approach syntax from the perspective of generative/transformational grammar and we will focus on the concepts and principles which have been of central significance in the recent development of syntactic theory, such as Phrase Structure grammar, X’-schema, θ-Theory, Government, Case, Transformations and Binding Theory.

LIN 5521. Minimalist Syntax. (Reglero) This course provides an introduction to the Minimalist Program (Chomsky 1995, and subsequent work). In this course, we will take the GB framework as a starting point and we will explore minimalist alternatives to discuss topics such as levels of representations, theta domains, case theory, movement, and binding theory.

LIN 5522. Advanced Spanish Syntax. (Reglero) This course provides an overview of Spanish syntax from a Minimalist perspective (Chomsky 1995, and subsequent work). In class, we will focus on the left periphery of the Spanish clause, with in-depth discussion of syntactic issues such as the subject position, topic, focus, wh-movement and inversion.

LIN 5602. Language Contact. (Muntendam) This course is an introduction to the field of language contact. Topics include theories of language contact, methods, contact-induced change at different linguistic levels (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, etc.), endangered languages, pidgins, creoles, and mixed languages. The course covers a wide range of language pairs and contact situations across the world.

LIN 5626. Heritage Language Acquisition. (Muntendam) This course examines heritage language speakers (a specific type of unbalanced bilinguals) and their languages. Topics include definitions of heritage languages and heritage language speakers, methodological issues, the characteristics of heritage languages (e.g., phonetics/phonology, morphosyntax, semantics, lexicon), bilingual acquisition, and similarities and differences between heritage language speakers and L2 learners. We will discuss studies on a range of heritage languages, including Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Turkish, and Russian.

LIN 5627. Code-switching. (Muntendam) This seminar examines the main issues in the study of code-switching (the use of two languages in the same discourse by a bi/multilingual speaker). Topics include methodological issues in the study of code-switching, grammatical aspects of code-switching, and sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic aspects of code-switching.

LIN 5628. Current Readings in Bilingualism. (Muntendam) This course focuses on recent issues within the field of Bilingualism. Students will read and critically evaluate recent articles from a wide range of bilingualism journals.

LIN 5695.* Psycholinguistics II: Lexical Processing. (Sunderman) In this course, students will examine the relationship between language and cognition in individuals who speak and understand more than one language, focusing on recent psycholinguistic research carried out in a variety of second languages (e.g., Spanish, Dutch, English, Italian). Students will be introduced to the major issues and concepts in psycholinguistics, as well as various models of language processing and experimental tasks used in the field. (The minimum requirement for the MA exam in Psycholinguistics is this course or LIN 5703. Psycholinguistics I: Sentence Processing)

LIN 5703.* Psycholinguistics I: Sentence Processing. (Muntendam) This seminar examines the psycholinguistics of sentence processing. We will discuss the main experimental findings in sentence processing, experimental methods (including behavioral tasks, eye-tracking and ERP), and models of sentence processing. We will read studies on different languages, and different types of bilinguals (including L2 learners and heritage speakers) as well as monolinguals. (The minimum requirement for the MA exam in Psycholinguistics is this course or LIN 5695. Psycholinguistics II: Lexical Processing)

LIN 5723.* Second Language Acquisition. (Sunderman) In this course, students will be introduced to a wide range of theories and key constructs within the field of second language acquisition (SLA). Students will also become familiarized with SLA research methods and data analysis procedures. (Minimum requirement for the MA exam in Second Language Acquisition)

LIN 5724. Current Research in Second Language Acquisition. (Sunderman) In this course, students will be exposed to the varied research veins of scholarship within the field of second language acquisition (SLA). Through reading the latest empirical studies from a wide range of SLA journals, students will gain a more thorough understanding of the most recent questions driving research on SLA. A goal of this course is for students to become familiarized with the scope of the field of SLA and improve their ability to read and interpret empirical SLA research articles.

LIN 5744. Language Learning and Instruction. (Leeser) The overall goal of this course is to give all incoming language instructors in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics an overview of the basics of language, the major processes of language acquisition, and the principles underlying communicative approaches to second language instruction (as informed by research and theory in second language acquisition).

LIN 5932. Special Topics: Research Methods. (Leeser) The purpose of this course is to introduce graduate students to specific research methodologies and statistical procedures used in quantitative experimental research in applied linguistics. This course will provide all students with the means to critically evaluate quantitative research in language studies and will provide advanced M.A. and Ph.D. students with the basic tools to carry out their own data based research.

LIN 5932. Special Topics: Seminar in Second Language Acquisition. (Leeser) The ability to process input is essential for acquiring language. Thus, this course will provide graduate students with an introduction to current issues regarding how L2 learners process morphological and syntactic properties during sentence comprehension. Furthermore, we will explore research examining the effectiveness of language instruction that targets L2 learners’ processing of input. The two main goals of this course are (i) to learn about how processing develops in second language learners and (ii) to explore the role of instruction in the development of second language input processing.

LIN 5932: Special Topics: The Syntax-Phonology Interface. (González & Reglero) This course focuses on the interaction between the syntactic and the phonological component in the grammar. In particular, it explores how sound is used to convey information about sentence structure and meaning, and how syntactic structure can impact phonetic detail and prosodic phrasing. The course will also examine the structural parallels between these two components of the grammar and preview the most influential theories of the syntax-phonology interface.

LIN 5932. Special Topics: Spanish in the United States. (Muntendam) This course examines Spanish in the United States, with particular emphasis on sociolinguistic aspects. Topics include varieties of Spanish in the United States, language and identity, language attitudes, maintenance and loss, language policy, bilingual education, and Spanish as a heritage language.

LIN 5932. Special Topics: Language Policy and Planning. (Soldat-Jaffe) Language planning is the conscious effort to influence the function, structure, or acquisition of languages within a community. It is rarely a transparent process and is most often influenced by a particular ideology. In this course we will study 1. how a language can be planned, in whose interest it is to pursue language planning, and for what reasons?, and 2. how language planning plays out on the political and linguistic level? For this, the following issues will be explored: lexical engineering, purism, language education, prescriptivism that becomes normativism, national languages, language death, language revival and linguistic human rights to counteract language death.

LIN 5932: Special Topics: Programming for Linguistics. (Juzek) This course covers the basics of Python programming, with a strong practical component focusing on problems of relevance to linguistics. Students will demonstrate their acquired skills through a final project, which includes a coding component and a project report. Special attention is given to making use of cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology ("AI-assisted programming"). No prior programming knowledge is required.

LIN 5937. Seminar on Language Invention (González) This course provides an overview of constructed languages (‘conlangs’), their characteristics, and the motivations underlying language invention. It offers guided practice on designing unique, typologically consistent languages by combining basic linguistic building blocks. The conlangs created for this course will be grounded in an original fictional world comprising a map and a written system.