About Us

The Linguistics Program at Duke is a unique interdisciplinary program offering undergraduate classes, majors and minors, and honors thesis supervision. We look at the use and structure of language in many contexts, and from many different perspectives. 

Linguistics majors are able to analyze and use language effectively, but they also develop excellent problem-solving, pattern-recognition and critical thinking skills that are highly valued in the job and graduate school markets. Many students go on to law or medical school, or other post-graduate training; others successfully pursue careers in a variety of fields including the media, advertising and marketing, finance, and education.

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Anti-Racism Statement

The Linguistics Program is active in anti-racism efforts in outreach to students, faculty and collaborations with our colleagues across the Triangle at NCSU, NCCU, NC A&T, UNC-CH, and K-12 teachers and students through course work, lectures and research. 

We are active in educating our communities about the risks of linguistic discrimination in fragile communities. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s Center for Advancing Opportunity (TMCF) defines fragile communities as “areas with high proportions of residents who struggle financially in their daily lives and have limited opportunities for social mobility” (2018: 2). Such communities experience, in the phrase coined by Judith Butler, precarity. One of the issues present across all of these communities is discrimination based on the fragile or precarious community’s use of particular linguistic forms and dialects.

Undergraduate Programs

Our linguistics major is unusual in its range of theoretical approaches coupled to the study of languages of the world. The major maintains the traditional and mainstream body of linguistic inquiry (general linguistic theory, sociolinguistics, cognitive linguistics, neurolinguistics) and, at the same time, encourages exploration of the most recent developments in language study that issue from cultural and literary theory and the biological sciences.

We also offer a minor, as well as an interdepartmental major with Computer Science.

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Featured Courses

The Power of Poetry

Takes different approaches to thinking through the relationship of poetry to power and the place and function of poetic language in contrast to other language forms. Specific units: 1) poetry's roots… read more about The Power of Poetry »

When the Head's in Trouble: Language, Lesions and Loss

Study of neurological breakdowns due to lesions from benign and malignant brain tumors, epilepsy (w/without lesions), head/neck cancer. Includes fundamentals of neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and head… read more about When the Head's in Trouble: Language, Lesions and Loss »

Games and the Brain

An introduction to the brain, fMRI technology, and tools used to analyze fMRI data. Analyze neural substrates that support game play through hands-on work with functional magnetic resonance imaging… read more about Games and the Brain »