Calling all Linguistics alumni: Please take a few minutes for this
BU Linguistics alumni survey. Thanks so much!


Some exciting news : A new Linguistics Program launches

July 1, 2015:

The CAS Linguistics Program now unifies degree offerings at the BA, MA, and PhD levels. This website will be reorganized in the near future to reflect the change. In the meantime, information about the graduate programs in Applied Linguistics can still be found here: If you have any questions about Linguistics at BU, don't hesitate to contact the Program Director, Prof. Carol Neidle, or the Associate Director and Director of Graduate Studies, Prof. Jonathan Barnes. Thanks for your patience as we reorganize the website.

LINGUISTICS COLLOQUIUM: “Grammatical Diversity in American English: A Window into the Structure of Grammar”

A presentation by RAFFAELLA ZANUTTINI,
Professor of Linguistics, Yale University

Thursday, December 3, 2015 @ 5:30 pm in KCB 101

Linguists seek to understand both the properties that characterize individual languages and those that are distinctive of human language more generally. In this talk, I will focus on one subfield of linguistics, syntax, and show how comparing linguistic varieties, both very different and very similar to one another, leads researchers to the discovery of patterns, and to the development and testing of hypotheses about linguistic structure.

I will do so by discussing the work we do within the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project, where we study morphosyntactic differences across varieties of English spoken in North America. We find that the presence of minimally different syntactic patterns in some cases correlates with extra-linguistic factors (like geographical region, ethnicity or age). For example, speakers who accept sentences with double modals, as in (1), tend to be from the South; speakers who accept sentences with like immediately followed by a passive participle, as in (2), tend to be from the Midlands; speakers who accept sentences with so followed by a negative auxiliary, as in (3), tend to be from New England; and speakers who are likely to say a sentence like (4) are those who belong to the younger generation, regardless of their geographical area. However, we also find syntactic variation that doesn’t obviously correlate with any such factors. For example, the use of rather as a verb (5) reflects the grammatical system of a diverse set of North American speakers:

(1) I might could go to the store for you. (Hasty 2014)
(2) Most babies like cuddled. (Murray and Simon 2002)
(3) Sure it’s trendy, but so aren’t most NY clubs. (Wood 2014)
(4) Jamie has SO dated that type of guy before. (Irwin 2014)
(5) I would have rathered go to a small school. (Wood 2013)

I will show that the study of syntactic variation across varieties of American English, in addition to having social and educational implications, also furthers our understanding of the syntax of human language.


Hasty, J. Daniel. 2014. We might should be thinking this way: Theory and practice in the study of syntactic variation. In Micro-syntactic variation in North American English, ed. Raffaella Zanuttini and Laurence R. Horn, 269–293. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Irwin, Patricia. 2014. SO [TOTALLY] Speaker-oriented: An analysis of “Drama SO”. In Micro-syntactic variation in North American English, ed. Raffaella Zanuttini and Laurence R. Horn, 29–70. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Murray, Thomas E., and Beth Lee Simon. 2002. At the intersection of regional and social dialects: The case of like + past participle in American English. American Speech 77:32–69.

Wood, Jim. 2013. Parasitic participles in the syntax of verbal rather. Lingua 137:59–87.

Wood, Jim. 2014. Affirmative semantics with negative morphosyntax: Negative exclamatives and the New England So AUXn’t NP/DP construction. In Micro-syntactic variation in North American English, ed. Raffaella Zanuttini and Laurence R. Horn, 71–114. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

This is also a Facebook event:
Click here for a printable flyer.

Newsletter: Fall 2015

Check out our Fall Newsletter:

Courses for Spring 2016

There's lots of time to plan courses for Spring 2016, but course descriptions are available on our website:, and a course description booklet can also be picked up in the entryway of 621 Commonwealth Ave. (here's an electronic version of that: Your advisor or the professor teaching the course will be happy to provide further information :-)

Spring 2016 course flyers

Click anywhere below to go to a display of course flyers for Spring 2016!

BU Linguistics Colloquium Series

See details on the Events page!

Honors Program in Linguistics

Linguistics majors who qualify are invited to apply for admission into the Honors program. There are also honors programs available for the various Linguistics joint majors (described here). Those of you who are not yet juniors might consider applying in the future.

The Linguistics Honors program requires 14 courses (rather than 12, as for the standard major), to include 3 at an advanced level; these must be completed with a GPA of at least 3.7. Students who complete the program successfully will graduate "with Honors in Linguistics."

Honors program application forms: Linguistics, Linguistics & Philosophy, French & Linguistics, Italian & Linguistics, Japanese & Linguistics, Spanish & Linguistics. [Applications for admission as of Spring 2016 will be accepted from 12/1/2015 to 1/20/2016 for students who will be graduating between January 2017 and September 2017 (inclusive).]

A variety of co-curricular activities will be organized for program participants. Complete details are available from this page: Students who may be interested in this program are also strongly encouraged to discuss this with their faculty advisor and/or Prof. Neidle.

Fall Workshop: Quantitative Methods in Linguistics

This coming semester, Professors Daniel Erker and Jon Barnes will be running a workshop on quantitative methods in linguistics in which they will lead hands-on demonstrations of a range of techniques and topics. These will include 1) creating, organizing, and managing linguistic data, 2) visualizing data through graphics and images, and 3) conducting significance tests and building regression models. All of the demonstrations will be done using R, a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics.

No background in statistics or computer programming is required. The workshop is open to all Linguistics graduate students, undergraduates in the honors program, and interested faculty. (If you are an interested undergraduate who is not in the honors program, please contact Professor Erker to discuss the possibility of participating in the workshop.)

The workshop will meet every other Tuesday from 4 to 6 pm in BRB 121 (with one exception on account of a BU Monday that falls on a Tuesday). Our first meeting will be 9/15/15. Subsequent meetings will be on 9/29, 10/6, 10/27, 11/10, 11/24, and 12/8. Since the goal of the workshop is for participants to learn how to do these things themselves, all are asked to bring laptops in order to follow along with the demos.

The structure of the workshop will follow that laid out in the book, Statistics for Linguistics with R: A Practical Introduction, by Stefan Th. Gries.

A note on attendance: Topics will build upon those that precede them. Which is to say that to get the most out of the workshop, participants should plan to attend every meeting.

If you are interested, here are the next steps:

  • Write to Professor Erker ( expressing your intent to participate in the workshop.
  • Buy the book and read the first chapter.
  • Install R and RStudio on your laptop.

Commencement 2015

Congratulations to our 2015 graduates! See some pictures on our Facebook page:

Video records of recent Linguistics presentations

Have you missed one of our recent invited lectures? Members of the BU community can watch the video and follow along with the slides :-)

Requirements for the Linguistics Major - modified as of September 2011

The current requirements for the linguistics major apply to students who declared their major no earlier than Fall of 2011. Students who declared their major prior to September of 2011 will be expected to fulfill the requirements in effect at that time, although they may elect to fulfill the newer requirements instead by so notifying the CAS Records Office (and their advisor). Please address any questions about this to your advisor.

Joint Majors in Linguistics & French/Italian/Japanese/Spanish

New !! Brochures for the joint majors in French/Italian/Japanese/Spanish & Linguistics. You can print them out yourself (2-sided, flip short side) or stop by to pick one up from the entryway to 621 Commonwealth Ave.:,,

In addition to our joint major in Linguistics & Philosophy (Hegis code: 1514), we are now pleased to be able to offer joint majors that combine the study of linguistics with that of language, literature, and culture. Here's some informationabout these majors (and the corresponding honors programs):

French & Linguistics (Hegis code: 1147)
Italian & Linguistics (Hegis code: 1148)
Japanese & Linguistics (Hegis code: 1149)
Spanish & Linguistics (Hegis code: 1150)

There is also the Linguistics major itself, of course (Hegis code 1505).

You can now change your major or minor declarations online:
Be sure to list all your majors and minors if you are making any kind of change.

For further information, contact Prof. Neidle.

Prof. Danny Erker studies the Spanish spoken in Boston

He is featured in BU Today:

Danny Erker, in East Boston’s Maverick Square, has been visiting the city’s neighborhoods to recruit subjects for his linguistics research. Photo by Cydney Scott, BU Today.

Fall Newsletter - 2014

Check out the latest Linguistics newsletter !

Alumni Notes/News

See our Alumni Notes page. Please let us know what you're up to. Send your news and photos. We'd love to hear from you :-)

BULA on the Web

Check out the site for the BU undergraduate Linguistics Association:

BULA also has a Facebook page:

Events are open to the BU community, and if you'd like to help in planning future events, new BULA members are always welcome :-)

CAS Linguistics Facebook Page

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