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

Evelyn TeSelle ’22

Researching Tiriki Grammar

As a research assistant to Prof. Michael Diercks, Evelyn TeSelle ’22 conducted interviews with a language consultant to investigate the function of copulas in Tiriki, a language of Kenya. She helped analyze data and produced an outline of the features and use of these copulas.

Mady Colantes ’22

Morphology and Syntax of Tiriki

Mady Colantes ’22 got to research and analyze the syntax of noun phrases in the Bantu language Tiriki with Professor Michael Diercks. She helped research and document aspects of Tiriki’s morphology and syntax.

Xuehuai He
Xuehuai He ’25

I enjoy the social science and humanities side of linguistics, which I don't normally get in other STEM subjects, as languages are fundamentally intertwined with practically everything in society. The interdisciplinary nature of this subject means that you can always find something interesting to you in it.

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.