Jul 22, 2024  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Department of Linguistics

450K Pawley Hall
(248) 370-2175
Fax: (248) 370-3144

Department website


Chairperson: Kuniko Nielsen

Professors emeriti: Carlo Coppola (Hindi-Urdu), Daniel H. Fullmer, William Schwab

Professor: Michael B. Smith

Associate professors: Kuniko Nielsen, Samuel Rosenthall

Assistant professor:  Jason Overfelt

Special instructor: Rebecca Gaydos

Chief adviser: Samuel Rosenthall


It is hard to imagine spending one waking moment without language. Whether we are alone or among other people, whether we dream or daydream, whether we write poetry, follow a recipe, cheer for the home team, speak or sing, language is involved. All normal children acquire a native language, no matter where they are born, what the language is or what their home life is like. People who are deaf have language; so do those who are blind, mute, completely paralyzed, intellectually disabled or emotionally disturbed. Language can be disrupted by injury or disease, processed by machines, altered for special occasions and exploited for ulterior motives. Despite this extraordinary presence, versatility and variability, every human language, whether Old English or Modern Japanese, shares universal features. Linguistics is the discipline that studies such matters concerning language.

Because language is so pervasive and so peculiarly human, students of linguistics find careers in many different areas. Some, such as teachers, computer scientists and speech therapists, use linguistics directly; others, such as market analysts, editors and advertising executives, use it indirectly. Still others use their undergraduate major in linguistics as a springboard to careers in law, education, business, artificial intelligence and international relations, as well as graduate study in linguistics and other fields.

Departmental Honors

The Department of Linguistics offers departmental honors to students who achieve a grade point average of 3.60 or above in courses required for the major in both the liberal arts major and the modified major with a minor in computer science. The department also recommends honors for students who have modified majors in other departments with concentrations in linguistics.

Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language

Students may earn a certificate in teaching English as a second language (TESL) by completing the following courses: LIN 2201 , ALS 4418  and ALS 4960 . In all cases a student must complete 12 credits in linguistics courses at OU and must satisfy the eligibility requirement described in Practicum Eligibility to obtain the certificate. Students interested in this certificate should contact an adviser in the Department of Linguistics.

Practicum Eligibility

Eligibility for the Practicum (ALS 4960 ) requires completion of ALS 4418  with a grade of B (3.0) or higher. 

Schedule of classes

Specific offerings for each semester may be found in the Schedule of Classes.