2010-11 Catalog

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Offering Description

Designing Languages


Fall and Winter quarters

Faculty: Susan Fiksdal linguistics and languages, Brian Walter mathematics, computer science, improvisational theater

Fields of Study: communications, computer science, cultural studies, international studies, language studies, linguistics and writing


Winter: Enrollment Accepting New Students  Signature Required Students with college-level French or Spanish experience may register for the full program or contact the faculty for other options if they are taking a language. Students should expect to complete some catch-up work in linguistic analysis and a computer programming language.  

Credits: 16(F); 16(W)

Variable Credit Options: 12- or 16-credit option available in Winter.

Class Standing: Freshmen - Senior; 25% of the seats are reserved for freshmenFreshmen - Senior

Offered During: Day


Have you wondered about the ways languages work? How do our thoughts get translated into language? Have you explored differences between natural languages (such as English, Spanish, or French) and artificial languages (such as computer programming languages or Esperanto)? Do you know in what ways computer languages are similar to natural languages and the ways in which they differ? Are there differences between languages that have written records and those that do not? Have you ever invented your own language?

In this two-quarter program, we will explore these questions by learning one natural language and one programming language, studying language evolution, artificial languages, language and culture, and designing a language. Specifically, you will study the structure and function of human language through an introduction to the field of linguistics. This will involve a study of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, discourse, metaphor, and pragmatics. This work on language structure will inform your study of either French or Spanish, both of which will be taught within the program. Besides these natural languages, you will learn a programming language. We will work on the connections between natural and artificial languages, and consider the implications of language design. In our seminars we will discuss theories of language evolution and the interrelationship of culture and language. Finally, you will work collaboratively on a language design project over the two quarters, culminating in a final symposium on language design.

Some students already at an intermediate level in French or Spanish should take the Evening/Weekend course fall and winter quarters.

Maximum Enrollment: 48

Preparatory for studies or careers in: computer science, education, French, language and culture, law, linguistics, programming languages, Spanish, and writing.

Campus Location: Olympia

Books: www.tescbookstore.com

Program Revisions

Date Revision
April 21st, 2010 This program will not be offered. Susan Fiksdal is offering Language and Power (12 credits).