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


Linguistics Program

The CAS Linguistics Program now unifies degree offerings at the BA, MA, and PhD levels. You can view "undergraduate" vs. "graduate" information by selecting the appropriate button at the top of this page. If you have any questions about Linguistics at BU, don't hesitate to contact the Program Director, Prof. Carol Neidle.

In Academic Year 2016-17 we are launching three new programs:

CAS Linguistics Facebook Page

Have a look: Become a fan! We welcome your suggestions about what else you would like to see there... Thanks!

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 :-)
Sign up as a BULA member on orgsync: and sign up for the BULA email list:

Congratulations to our award-winning Linguistics students !

We have just been notified that THREE of our excellent Linguistics students have been selected to receive student awards funded by the BU Center for the Humanities:

  • Margaret Adham
  • Jimmy Sbordone
  • Wayne Yoon

They are all extremely deserving, and we are very proud.
They will receive these awards in a ceremony on May 16th.

Commencement 2017

Students who will be graduating in January, May, or September of 2017 are all invited to participate in the May ceremonies! For details, see: The Linguistics convocation ceremony will be held on Saturday morning. Students graduating with double majors or joint majors that include Linguistics are welcome to attend the Linguistics ceremony as well as the ceremony for the other (part of your) major. Further information will be forthcoming, but feel free to direct any questions to Prof. Neidle.

Courses for Fall 2017

Pre-registration for fall starts in early April. Information about fall courses in Linguistics is available here: A course description booklet is available in 621 Comm. Ave., or you can print out your own:

Please meet with your advisor well in advance of your pre-registration date. Students studying abroad should be sure to get approval in advance (if necessary via e-mail, at the very beginning of your semester abroad) from your advisor for any courses you hope to count towards degree requirements. Students who are currently abroad should be in touch with your advisor by email to plan for fall courses.

Course flyers for Fall 2017


Spring Advising Schedule

Welcome back ! And Happy 2017 !!

Check out the Spring Advising Schedule - let us know if we can be of help. Profs. Hagstrom and Neidle will also have some availability on Tuesday and Wednesday (January 17-18); feel free to contact them for an appointment if you need help or advice before the semester begins :-)

Prof. Elizabeth Coppock - coming to BU in September 2017

Assistant Professor Elizabeth Coppock will be joining the Linguistics faculty in September 2017. She will serve as our semanticist (replacing Prof. Pete Alrenga) and teach a range of courses in semantics and pragmatics.

We look forward to welcoming her in the fall!

UROP: Funding opportunity

Research Opportunity for Linguistics students:

If you would like to explore the possibilities for a research project, you should consult with a Linguistics faculty member with expertise in your area of interest. Note that the (strict) deadlines for submission of applications are posted here: A limited number of awards is available. This is highly competitive, so you will want to give great care to your application

Congratulations to the latest UROP recipients, who will be conducting research during Summer 2017 !! For further details, see

Congratulations to the UROP recipients from summer and fall 2016 and spring 2017 !!

Three Linguistics students also received UROP funding in Spring 2016!

Sarah Lawson:
"Language Contact and Transfer Between Andean Spanish and Bolivian Quechua: Regional and Social Perspectives" (working with Prof. Myler)

Using a corpus of sociolinguistic interviews with Quechua and Spanish bilinguals, Sarah investigated phonological, lexical, and syntactic phenomena of language contact and transfer between Andean Spanish and Quechua. She examined the linguistic constraints which affect several variables (including the realization of /r/ and the use of certain past tenses), and she used the results of an attitudinal survey to investigate how these variables relate to speaker attitudes and orientations toward indigenous culture.

James Sbordone:
"Phonetic description of Southeastern Pomo, an endangered language of California" (working with Prof. Chang)

Jimmy worked on an acoustic analysis of recordings of Southeastern Pomo, a severely endangered language historically spoken in northern California. These data will ultimately contribute to a phonetic description of the idiolect of the last living fluent speaker as well as a diachronic comparison between her speech and the speech of the preceding generation (captured on archival recordings). He looked at both stop consonants and the vowel space.

Dallas Walter:
"Korean fricatives: Diachronic changes in phonetic enhancement strategies" (working with Prof. Chang)

Dallas carried out analyses of younger and older Korean speakers' production of the fricative contrast between fortis /s*/ and non-fortis /s/. The recordings were from an experiment conducted earlier this year, which was designed to examine the phonetic properties that speakers exaggerate in these fricatives when speaking in the 'clear speech' register. The phonetic data that Dallas compiled provides evidence to support a phonological classification of the non-fortis fricative in the context of the Korean laryngeal system.

Fall Newsletter

Brand new MA in Linguistics !

BU is launching a brand new LINGUISTICS MA program !

See this page for details:

This program is intended to take the place of our current MA in Applied Linguistics. New applications will be accepted henceforth only for the new program.

NOTE TO CURRENT GRADUATE STUDENTS and those who will be entering the MA program in September 2016: This change will not affect you at all. Your requirements for degree, and everything else associated with the program, will remain unchanged. You will, however, have the option of transferring to the new program, if you wish -- although this would, in most cases, require additional coursework specifically in linguistics (over and above what you might otherwise have been doing for the Applied Linguistics degree) in order to satisfy the requirements of the new program. If you are interested in discussing this possibility, feel free to contact Carol Neidle or Jon Barnes.

Brand new: Dual BA/MA in Linguistics

There is a new dual degree BA/MA program in Linguistics: Prof. Neidle is available to provide further information and answer any questions you may have, and/or to help you plan your academic program.

New intercollegiate joint major in Linguistics & Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Students in CAS or SAR can now major in Linguistics & Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. For details of the new CAS major, see There is also a corresponding honors program. Click here for a printable pdf description of the new program. Note that the program has not yet been integrated into BU's other websites and computer systems. If you are interested in the new program, feel free to speak with Prof. Neidle.

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

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 majors in Linguistics & Philosophy (Hegis code: 1514), and Linguistics & Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, 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.

Please note that the pdf documents linked in above are based on course numbering in effect through Spring 2016. Updated versions with the new course numbers will be provided soon.

For further information, contact Prof. Neidle.

Linguistics Honors Programs

If you plan to graduate between May 2018 and January 2019 (inclusive) and would like to enter the Honors program for Linguistics or one of the Linguistics joint majors as of January 2017, applications will be accepted between 12/1/2016 and 1/20/2017. For details, see:

Major announcement about Linguistics curriculum

Effective Fall 2016, Linguistics course numbers will be changing! Please read about the details here:

These details will appear on the Link as of February 17, 2016. The ling website is currently being updated.

Linguistics Colloquium

Prof. Byron Ahn, Princeton University, presents: "What does ? sound like ?"
Friday, March 31, 2017 @ 5 pm in KCB 101

Abstract: The English writing system employs a question mark (i.e. “?”) to indicate that something is a question. American English speakers tend to intuitively associate the question mark with a rise in intonation. At the same time, it is known that there are different types of questions — do they all involve an intonational rise? What sorts of variation do we find across different types of questions, and how much variation do we find within each type of question?

In this talk, I address these questions and present some results from ongoing experimental research, which has uncovered more variation within question-type than previously recorded. In particular, low pitch accents (ToBI: L*) in polar questions appear to have a variant in which they are preceded by a non-meaningful high (what I label as: hL*), suggesting that intonational phonology (like segmental phonology) allows phonetic variation that goes beyond the phonemic inventory of the language.

This is also a Facebook event:
Printable flyer:


Wednesday, November 16, 2016 @ 5:30 PM
In LSE B01.

This is also a Facebook event:

Abstract: Research in psychology has repeatedly affirmed a core cognitive difference between substances and individual objects. In languages like English, the mass-count distinction seems to reflect this difference grammatically: nouns describing individual objects are typically count nouns, while nouns describing substances are typically mass nouns. To what extent does this mapping between cognitive categories and linguistic encodings vary across languages? If the substance-individual distinction is a universal of cognition, is the mass-count distinction a universal of semantics?

In this talk I approach these questions through a close study of mass-count patterns in Nez Perce (Penutian), drawing from original fieldwork. At first glance, Nez Perce appears to falsify any proposed mass-count universal: all nouns behave like count nouns do in English. Yet it turns out that in very restricted grammatical circumstances, Nez Perce nevertheless reveals evidence of a standard semantic distinction between mass and count nouns. I provide an analysis of semantic variation between Nez Perce and English centered around how each language introduces apportionment -- the mapping from meanings like that of "sand" onto meanings like that of "quantity of sand". I conclude by showing how the Nez Perce pattern actually ends up providing new support for a proposed mass-count universal.

Linguistics Colloquium: Raj Mesthrie

This is also a Facebook event:

*Co-sponsored by the African Studies Center. For a printable brochure, click here.

First Linguistics colloquium of the fall :-)

*Co-sponsored by the Boston University Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering.

For an abstract and information about the speaker, see our Facebook event listing:

For a pdf printable announcement, see


This year, Linguistics -- now an autonomous program -- held its own Commencement ceremony for the first time, with a very special convocation speaker: Prof. Bruce Hayes.

Congratulations to all our graduates!☺

See all the photos on the Linguistics Facebook page:

Calling all Linguistics alumni !

    1) If you haven’t yet filled out our alumni survey, or would like to update your information, please click here:

    2) 2016 graduates are urged to complete the exit survey (link was sent by email; contact if you would like it resent).

    3) We’d also love to get an update from you for our Alumni Notes page:

Thanks so much !! Very best wishes from all of us...

Where are they now?

Are you interested to know what our Linguistics alumni are doing now? If so, please have a look at our Alumni Notes page, and have a look here. If you are one of our Linguistics alumni but have not yet filled out our alumni survey, or would like to update your information, please see below. To send an update for the Alumni Notes Page, please send email to Thank you so much!!

Note to current students: Many of our alumni have graciously offered to connect with current students interested in their career path. If you would like to be put in contact with someone in your area of interest, please discuss this with your advisor or with Prof. Neidle.

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 :-)

BU was host to Speech Prosody 2016: May 31-June 4

Speech Prosody is the only recurring international conference focused on prosody as an organizing principle for the social, psychological, linguistic, and technological aspects of spoken language. Past conferences in Aix-en-Provence, Nara, Dresden, Campinas, Chicago, Shanghai and Dublin have each attracted 300-400 delegates, including experts in the fields of Linguistics, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Speech and Hearing Science, Psychology, and related disciplines.

See the Speech Prosody 2016 home page. The conference was organized by Jonathan Barnes (Boston University), Nanette Veilleux (Simmons College), Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Alejna Brugos (Boston University PhD 2015), with the participation of BU students. Pictures from the conference are available from the BU Linguistics Facebook page.

Two recent Linguistics graduates, now Assistant Professors at the U. of Oregon and George Mason U., collaborating on research on differences in prosody of native and non-native speakers of English, were among the conference participants!
See a picture of them with their poster :-)

BU Linguistics Colloquium Series

See details on the Events 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 :-)

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.

Newsletter: Fall 2015

Check out our Fall Newsletter:

Fall Newsletter - 2014

Check out the latest Linguistics newsletter !

Follow BU Linguistics on Twitter