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College of Arts & Sciences
Linguistics Program

Social, Cultural, and Historical Linguistics

M.A. and Ph.D. Concentrations

The Linguistics Program at the University of South Carolina offers M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. Students may choose special fields (sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, and historical linguistics) that fall under our Social, Cultural, and Historical Linguistics concentration, which we welcome you to explore:

What kind of training do students receive?
Who are the faculty in this concentration?
What graduate courses have we recently offered? 
What dissertation projects have our students completed?
Who are some of our other faculty interested in these areas?
What related graduate courses do we list in the Bulletin?


What kind of training do students receive?

Our faculty members who teach in the Social, Cultural, and Historical Linguistics concentration, while remarkably diverse in their training, share an interest in analyzing how language data relates to sociocultural and/or historical phenomena.

Our sociolinguists and linguistic anthropologists are united in providing students with multiple points of entry to examining the language-sociocultural interface. They have conducted research within international and (trans)national settings (France, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Illinois, Iowa, South Carolina, Texas, U.S. immigrant communities, U.S. and transnational media) and on an array of language varieties (African American English, Asian American language, French, Gullah, Kaqchikel, Korean, Mam, Spanish, Taíno). Students have the opportunity to become familiar with an unusually comprehensive set of quantitative and qualitative methods for conducting variationist, interactional, and ethnographic research.

Our historical linguists guide students in examining language history and language change, based on data gathered from modern standard languages, dialects, and historical documents, using such methods as language comparison, language typology, corpus studies, phonological theory, and laboratory phonology. Faculty research focuses primarily on historical phonology, historical morphology, and language contact, dealing mostly with Germanic (English, German, Scandinavian, Dutch, Frisian) and Romance (French, Spanish, Portuguese) languages.

Our dynamic and collaborative community of students and faculty meet regularly to share work, exchange ideas, and learn from one another during our Sociolinguistics, Linguistic Anthropology, and Historical Linguistics Lab meetings.


Who are the faculty in the Social, Cultural, and Historical Linguistics concentration?

A range of core and affliated faculty members have taught courses related to Social, Cultural, and Historical Linguistics. (See table below for a complete list of faculty with interests in this concentration.) The following faculty members most regularly teach courses in these areas.

  • Elaine Chun (Ph.D. in Linguistics, University of Texas at Austin) Sociolinguistics, Linguistic Anthropology, Interaction, Race/Gender/Sexuality, Racism, Authenticity, Asian American Language
  • Amanda Dalola (Ph.D. in French Linguistics, University of Texas at Austin) Phonetics, Sociophonetics, Sociolinguistics, Theoretical Phonology, Lab Phonology, Historical Romance, Tweetmining
  • Dorothy Disterheft (Ph.D. in Linguistics, UCLA) Historical Linguistics, Indo-European Syntax
  • Sherina Feliciano-Santos (Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of Michigan) Linguistic anthropology, Activism, Language and Cultural Revitalization, Racial and Ethnic Formations, Narrative, Face-to-Face Interaction
  • Kurt Goblirsch (Ph.D. in Germanic Philology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis) Germanic Linguistics (German, English, Scandinavian), Historical Linguistics, Phonology, Dialectology
  • D. Eric Holt ( Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics, Georgetown University) Hispanic Linguistics, History and Dialects of Spanish and Portuguese, Second Language Spanish Pronunciation, Phonology, Optimality Theory
  • Jennifer Reynolds (Ph.D. in Anthropology, UCLA) Linguistic Anthropology, Pragmatics, Language Ideology, Language Socialization, Narrative and Performance 
  • Tracey Weldon (Ph.D. in Linguistics, Ohio State University) Sociolinguistics, African American English, Gullah


What graduate courses have we recently offered?

African American English
Anthropological Approaches to Narrative and Performance
Discourse Analysis
Ethnography of Communication
Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology
Introduction to Sociolinguistics
Language and Gender
Language and Globalization
Language and Race
Language as Social Action
Language, Race, and Ethnicity in the US
Varieties of American English


What dissertation projects have our students completed?


All faculty interested in Social, Cultural, and Historical Linguistics

Elaine Chun

Associate Professor (English)

Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin, 2007

Sociolinguistics, Linguistic Anthropology, Interaction, Race/Gender/Sexuality, Racism, Authenticity, Asian American Language

Amanda Dalola

Assistant Professor (Linguistics)

PhD, French Linguistics, UT Austin, 2014

Phonetics, Sociophonetics, Sociolinguistics, Theoretical Phonology, Lab Phonology, Historical Romance

Kurt Goblirsch

Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; German)

Ph.D.,University of Minnesota, 1990

German Sociolinguistics, Comparative Germanic Linguistics (German, English, Scandinavian, Dutch, Frisian), Historical Linguistics, Language Typology, Dialectology, Phonology, Morphology, Etymology 

Dorothy Disterheft

Associate Professor (English)

Ph.D., University of California-Los Angeles, 1977

Theory of language change; Historical syntax; Historical phonology; Indo-European linguistics, culture, religion, and prehistory; Old and Middle Irish syntax; Contemporary English grammar

Scott Gwara

Consulting Faculty

Professor (English)

Ph.D., University of Toronto, 1993  

Bilingualism in pre-conquest England, Old English and Anglo-Latin philology

Eric Holt

Associate Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; Spanish)

Ph.D., Georgetown University, 1997

Phonology, Historical linguistics, dialectology

Jennifer F. Reynolds

Associate Professor (Anthropology) 

Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 2002 

Linguistic anthropology, language socialization, political economy of languages

Tracey Weldon

Associate Professor (English) 

Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 1998 

Sociolinguistics, morpho-syntactic variation

Junko Baba

Consulting Faculty

Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; Japanese)  

Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin, 1996 

Sociolinguistics, pragmatics, applied linguistics, Japanese

Lara Ducate

Consulting Faculty

Associate  Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; German) 

Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin, 2003

Sociocultural Theory, discourse analysis, computer-mediated communication, Mikhail Bakhtin

Sherina Feliciano-Santos

Consulting Faculty

Assistant Professor (Anthropology)

Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2011

Linguistic anthropology, the politics of language use, social activism, language and cultural revitalization, racial and ethnic formations, religion; narrative, and face-to-face interaction



Graduate Courses in Social, Cultural, and Historical Linguistics listed in the Bulletin

LING 548 - German Sociolinguistics
Credits: 3
Introduction to the study of variation in Modern German. Traditional German dialectology and dialect geography, language and society, multilingualism in the German-speaking countries, German in contact with other languages.
Cross-listed with GERM 518

LING 530 - Language Change
Credits: 3 
Major ways in which phonetics, phonology, syntax, morphology, and semantics change through language history; social factors which promote innovation.
LING 540 - Topics in Language and Culture
Credits: 3 
Introduction to sociolinguistic issues, focusing on a single language. Course content varies and will be announced by suffix and title. May be repeated twice as topics vary.

LING 533 - Introduction to the Germanic Languages
Credits: 3
Introduction to historical Germanic linguistics including a survey of the Old Germanic languages (Old English, Old Frisian, Old Saxon, Old High German, Old Norse, Gothic); comparative phonology, morphology, and syntax, typology of modern Germanic languages and dialects; and common Germanic in its Indo-European context.
Cross-listed Course: GERM 517

LING 541 - Language and Gender
Credits: 3 
Approaches to gender and language emphasizing the social grounding of both; how language reflects sociocultural values and is a tool for constructing different types of social organization.
Equivalent Course ANTH 555, WGST 555

LING 542 - Language and Globalization
Credits: 3 
Anthropological approach to issues of language and globalization. Linguistic consequences of globalization under consideration include communicative patterns, linguistic change, and language and political economy. 
Equivalent Course ANTH 556

LING 543 - Discourse, Gender, and Politics of Emotion
Credits: 3 
Anthropological approach to issues of discourse, gender, and emotion. Issues under consideration include the social control, force, and forms of emotional discourse and the relationship between emotion and culture from gender-oriented perspectives.
Equivalent Course ANTH 586

LING 545 - Anthropological Approaches to Narrative and Performance
Credits: 3 
The ways people from various cultures reflect on, reinforce, and construct their social realities through narrating, which will be considered as both artistic expression and social action.
Equivalent Course ANTH 553

LING 730 - Historical Linguistics
Credits: 3
Innovation in phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics; evidence from texts, social and regional dialects; emphasis on theories of language change.
Prerequisites LING 600 and 610

LING 731 - History of English Language
Credits: 3 
The historical background of Modern English with attention to the major linguistic and cultural developments which distinguish English from other related languages. No prior knowledge of Old English or Middle English is required.
Equivalent Course ENGL 781

LING 732 - History of the French Language
Credits: 3 
Development of the French language from its origins to 1600.
Equivalent Course FREN 715

LING 733 - History of the German Language
Credits: 3 
Relationship of German to the other Germanic languages. Phonological and morphological development of German. Attention also to syntax, vocabulary, and dialects.
Equivalent Course GERM 705

LING 734 - History of the Spanish Language
Credits: 3 
Development of the language from its origins to the present day.
Equivalent Course SPAN 715

LING 740 - Introduction to Sociolinguistics
Credits: 3 
An examination of choices speakers in the same community make between styles, dialects, and languages; their association with social group memberships; speakers’ perceptions of interpersonal relationships.
Corequisite Prereq or coreq: LING 600
Prerequisites Prereq or coreq: LING 600

LING 742 - Analysis of Conversation
Credits: 3 
Types of interactive organization found within conversation and the methods and procedures used by participants to achieve order.
Equivalent Course ANTH 756

LING 744 - Language Contact Phenomena
Credits: 3 
The structural effects of contact between speakers of more than one language on the language involved. Borrowing, code-switching, convergence, language death, development of pidgins and creoles.
Prerequisites LING 600

LING 745 - Varieties of American English
Credits: 3 
Social and regional variation in American English since the colonial period.
Equivalent Course ENGL 782

LING 747 - Language as Social Action
Credits: 3
Examines language as a social, cultural, and political matrix. Topics include ideology, gender, race, power, agency, and resistance. Students will apply linguistic theories in their own analyses of everyday speech.
Equivalent Course ANTH 747

LING 748 - Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology
Credits: 3
A comprehensive introduction to linguistic anthropology, its relationship(s) to sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, and conversation analysis. Contributions made to social theory and theories of language and discourse will be understood. 
Prerequisites LING 600

LING 780 - Discourse Analysis
Credits: 3 
Underlying principles of how phonological, syntactic, and lexical features are organized above the sentence level; alternative choices of these features and how they contribute to the speaker’s/writer’s goals.
Prerequisites LING 600

LING 782 - Language Ideology: The Political Economy of Language Beliefs and Practices|
Credits: 3
Linguistic anthropological approaches that examine how ideological systems mediate social structures and Iinguistic /discursive forms and functions. Topics range from language and political economy, identity and identifications, institutions, and nation-building/nationalism.
Cross-listed Course: ANTH 782

LING 840 - Seminar in Language Variation
Credits: 3 
Current theories relevant to specialized consideration of the social functions of linguistic choices at any level of analysis; variation as a reflection of region and social group membership or interpersonal relationships.
Prerequisites consent of instructor

LING 805-A: Seminar in African-American English
Credits: 3
Examines linguistic features and expressive speech events associated with African American English (AAE).Topics include theories about its origins and development, and representations of the variety in literature, music, and the media.

LING 830 - Seminar in Historical Linguistics
Credits: 3 
Special topics in historical and comparative linguistics, such as historical phonology or syntax, Indo-European linguistics, and comparative Germanic or Romance linguistics.
Prerequisites consent of instructor