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Linguistics Major

Explore human language in various aspects, from its internal mental structures to its everyday use in social life.

The linguistics major/minor allows students to study the mental structures of language (phonology, syntax, semantics) and how people use language in everyday life to organize their social worlds. In doing this, our major provides training in qualitative and quantitative data analysis, writing and argumentation, and a variety of methods for rigorous investigation.

Students participate in research both inside and outside classes, including documentation and analysis of understudied and endangered languages, computational analysis of large data sets, and investigation of the social impacts of language use.

Professor Michael Diercks doing research in Kenya
Professor Michael Diercks doing research in Kenya
Holliday Linguistics Class
In class with professor Nicole Holliday

What You’ll Study

    • How language is used to construct identities and connect to social groups
    • Interview-based, observational, experimental, and computational research methods
    • The mental structures of language
    • The relationship between language and cognition

Researching at Pomona

Evan Chuu ’20

Studying Bajan English of Rihanna

For his Language and Society class, Evan Chuu ’20 researched the speech and singing of pop artist Rihanna and her use of Bajan or Barbadian English at different points of her career as they correspond with her changing public persona.

Felicity Walston Slideshow

Documenting the Luyia-Bantu Languages of West Kenya

As a research assistant during the summer, Felicity Walston ’20 read through transcripts of interviews and narratives from native speakers of the language Wanga and she was also able to postulate some new syntactic theories of her own to Professor Michael Diercks.

Evan Chuu
Evan Chuu ’20

The fact that I've been able to perform a diverse range of research and gain significant exposure to research methods is a testament to the ability of the linguistics faculty to prepare students for the real-world. I've been fortunate enough to be able to work closely with faculty members and also have access to high-level, actual linguistic research.

Faculty & Teaching

Professor Michael Diercks

Our students graduate with a deep understanding of the mental structures of language and the role of language in the human experience. Students’ learning experiences range from hands-on research, to theoretical questions about cognition, to investigation of language patterns in everyday life. Faculty and students together engage in high-level research that is presented at prestigious conferences and published in top journals.