Linguistics

Linguistics

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Major Introduction

Professors talk about what you can learn through this major.

Mission Statement

The main goal of Linguistics is to provide scientific answers to questions such as "Why is it that only humans can speak language?" and "What kind of creatures are humans?" by examining human language. The linguistics major's mission is to explain, in a scientific manner, salient properties of human language, which cannot be found in the communication system of other animals.

In the linguistics major, we attempt to analyze complex and elaborate structures found in human language. Based on the core fields of linguistics, Phonetics (study of linguistic sounds), Phonology (theory of sound system), Morphology (study of internal structure of words), Syntax (study of internal structure of phrases and sentences), Semantics (study of linguistic meaning) and Pragmatics (study of linguistic expressions and contexts), we investigate what constitutes the system of language, which is assumed to be incorporated in the human brain/mind. Humans generally become able to speak a native language. It is not that Japanese babies speak Japanese natively because they are Japanese citizens. Japanese babies will speak Swahili natively if they are born and raised in the environment where Swahili is mainly spoken. Regardless of race, nationality, and sex, babies effortlessly acquire any language spoken around them in a relatively short period of time. Why is such a thing possible? We know how hard it is to learn a foreign language. Compare to that, many miraculous elements are involved in the native language acquisition process.

Modern Linguistics hypothesizes that humans are equipped with a biological program that makes native language acquisition possible. The linguistics major tries to examine language from various perspectives and works towards better understanding of the nature of the relevant biological program.

Learning Goals

We seek to promote the following learning goals:

  1. Learn scientific methodologies in linguistics and conduct analyses of linguistic structure.
  2. Investigate mechanisms generating universal properties of linguistic structure.
  3. Understand how linguistics interacts with other closely related academic fields (cognitive sciences, psychology, brain science, philosophy, mathematical logic, etc.).
  4. Investigate "What kinds of creatures humans are" through studying language.
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