Fall 2022 Special Topics Course Descriptions

Ling 370: Linguistics, Education, and Social Justice

Dr. Anne Lobeck

  • Credits: 5
  • Prerequisites: One course from: LING 201, ANTH 247, ENG 370, TESL 401 or HNRS 217; or instructor permission.


Though much valuable work is going on both in terms of scholarship on education and innovative classroom practices and methodologies, much teaching about language still remains based in Standard Language Ideology, marginalizing speakers of varieties of English not considered ‘mainstream.’  In this class, we will explore racist and other systemic discriminatory practices in education: what they are, how they came to be, and why they continue. We will investigate a diverse range of research and practice on enacting positive change in teaching about language in school, and explore ways that linguistics can be applied in the classroom to support equity and inclusion. 

LING 402: The Structure of Spanish

Dr. R. Mata

  • Credits: 5
  • Prerequisites: LING 310; one course from: LING 204, LING 207, or ANTH 347.


The Structure of Spanish takes the following question as its point of departure: How do the principles that you learned in LING 310 apply to Spanish, the second most-spoken language in the U.S.? In this course, we’ll survey aspects of Spanish phonetics, phonology (syllable structure and the main phonological processes of Spanish), morphology (inflectional & derivational morphology) and syntax (phrasal structure). As a Romance language, Spanish gives us a unique opportunity to also delve deeper into areas of study where some of these areas of linguistic analysis intersect and which you may not have studied before, particularly morpho-phonology and morpho-syntax. The course is structured around weekly problem sets in which we analyse different varieties of Spanish. We will also cover some historical aspects of Spanish such as Latin and Greek lexical roots as well as the evolution of sibilants sounds across time from Vulgar Latin to contemporary Spanish.


Students who have taken this course in the past have come away not only with reinforced knowledge of linguistic analysis but also increased confidence in their writing ability. Although in the past this course has been ideal for double majors in Spanish and Linguistics – or students minoring in Spanish with a Linguistics major – some of the most remarkable work has also come out of students who came to the course with only basic understanding of Spanish grammar. Please contact the instructor (R.Mata@wwu.edu) if you have any questions.

LING 421: Topics in Morphology and Syntax

Dr. Kristin Denham

  • Credits: 5
  • Prerequisites: LING 321; one course from: LING 204, LING 207 or ANTH 347.
  • WP3


Morphology & Syntax of Native North American Languages 


In this course, we will study the structure of Native American languages, with most attention being paid to the indigenous languages of the United States and Canada. We will focus on morphology and syntax, those being especially intertwined in these languages; most languages of North America are grammatically rich, typically possessing characteristics of typological interest and challenging theoretical models.


There are approximately 300 indigenous languages north of Mexico; the majority of these are grouped into 29 families (the remaining 27 languages are either isolates or unclassified). North America is notable for its linguistic diversity; due to the diversity of languages, it is difficult to make generalizations about the languages. (Many languages throughout North America are, for example, polysynthetic, but not all are.)


Why study the languages together as a group at all?  We do not study them together because they are from the same families or possess the similar characteristics. Rather, their diversity provides a varied array of data, allowing us insight into some of the most basic but important questions linguists ask, including the following:

  • What is similar across all languages?
  • What kinds of differences can languages have and why?
  • What’s a word?
  • What’s a sentence?


Student learning outcomes: Students who successfully complete this LING 421 should be able to do the following:

  • Develop and refine skills in linguistic description and analysis, especially as pertains to the typologically interesting languages of North America.
  • Become familiar with the morphosyntactic linguistic patterns typologically associated with Native American languages.
  • Do independent research in Native American linguistics, at least at a beginning level.
  • Recognize and formulate linguistic arguments, as well as express them in prose.


Required text

The Languages of Native North America by Marianne Mithun. Cambridge University Press. 1999.