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Language, Culture, and Society Major

The new major in language, culture, and society offers an exploration of the relationship between language, social factors and culture, multilingualism, language variation, and theories about how language is shaped by, and in turn shapes, our understandings about the world, social relations, identities, and power. This major offers a coherent interdisciplinary curriculum with coursework that will provide theories and analytical frameworks to explore language use and variation across cultures and social contexts. Students receive foundational knowledge of the two disciplines, linguistics and anthropology, and will be immersed in sustained inquiry of social, cultural and linguistic systems, with a focus on the interdependence of these systems. The major enables students to perform analyses of language use to investigate the nature of language and power, language use and identity construction, language and world-view, gendered speech, discourse styles and social roles and relations, and cultural traditions and language arts. The major also involves consideration of issues of bilingualism and multilingualism, and related issues of language ideology and policy.

Graduates gain expertise to address complex social problems in a globalized, pluralistic twenty-first century world and qualify for employment in applied careers in nonprofit associations, federal, state, local government and international agencies, community centers, refugee organizations, cultural institutes, and tech companies. Graduates can pursue graduate work in anthropology, law, linguistics, or a variety of interdisciplinary areas in the social sciences, especially those related to language and its use. 

Preparation for the Major (6 units)

  • Linguistics 101
  • Anthropology 102

Language Requirement

Competency (successfully completing the third college semester or fifth college quarter) is required in one foreign language to fulfill the graduation requirements. Refer to the section of the catalog on “Graduation Requirements.”

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement

All undergraduate students must demonstrate competency in writing skills at the upper division level as a requirement for the baccalaureate degree. Refer to the University Catalog's Graduation Requirements for the Bachelor's Degree web page for more information about the GWAR requirement.

Major (33 units)

A minimum of 33 units to include:

  • Language, Culture, and Society 300
  • Anthropology 303
  • Anthropology 410
  • Three units selected from Linguistics 420, 501, Anthropology 304
  • Nine units selected from Language, Culture, and Society 483, Linguistics 502, 526, 551
  • Three units selected from Linguistics 363 [or Africana Studies 363] or Linguistics 460 [or American Indian Studies 460 or Anthropology 460]
  • Six units selected from Linguistics 350, 352, 354, Sociology 410, 412
  • Three units of a course focusing on a specific culture, from any department.

Language, Culture, and Society 300: Language, Culture, and Society (3 units) [GE]
Prerequisites: Linguistics 101 and Anthropology 102.
Language, culture, and society study using anthropology and linguistics. Bilingualism, dialect variation, language endangerment and preservation, language ideology and policy, sexism and racism.
Note: This course satisfies the general education cultural diversity requirement.

Language, Culture, and Society 483: Topics in Language, Culture, and Society (3 units)
Prerequisites: Language, Culture, and Society 300, Anthropology 102, and Linguistics 101.
Topics in language, culture, and society such as language and culture in technology, cross-linguistic lexical semantics and culture, conversational analysis and cultural variation, cross-cultural variation in gendered speech, globalization and English. May be repeated with new content. Maximum Credits: six units.

Linguistics 101: Introduction to Language (3 units) [GE]
The nature of language. Sound, meaning, and grammar. Language history and change. Dialects and variation. Language acquisition. Animal communication. Language and the brain.
Note: Not open to students with credit in upper division linguistics courses, excluding LING 305W.

Linguistics 350: Language and Politics (3 units) [GE]
Linguistics devices used to persuade in politics. Differences between what is literally said and what is actually conveyed in political discourse. How political speakers and writers use grammar, sound structure, and vocabulary to persuade.

Linguistics 352: Language and Advertising (3 units)
Linguistic devices used to persuade in advertising. Differences between what is literally said and what is actually conveyed in advertisements. How advertisers use the grammar, sound structure, and vocabulary of languages (especially English) to persuade audiences.

Linguistics 354: Language and Computers (3 units) [GE]
Computers, computer programming languages, and “artificial intelligence” viewed from perspective of human language.

Linguistics 363: Sociocultural Analysis of Black Languages (3 units) (Same course as Africana Studies 363)
Social and cultural functions of Black languages, verbal and nonverbal, in Afro-American life, and their profound impact on larger society. Also, a probe into issues concerning validity of Black English.
Note: This course satisfies the ethnic studies [ES] requirement.

Linguistics 420: Linguistics and English (3 units) [GE]
Introduction to sound and grammatical structure of language, with special attention to English. Language acquisition and variation. Of special interest to prospective teachers. Not open to students with credit in Linguistics 501.

Linguistics 460: American Indian Languages (3 units) [GE] (Same course as American Indian Studies 460 and Anthropology 460)
Structures of American Indian languages. Language families of North America, history, and present circumstances. Interdependence of language and culture, differences in ways of speaking. Issues of language endangerment, language death, language maintenance, and language revitalization.
Note: This course satisfies the ethnic studies [ES] requirement.

Linguistics 501: Fundamentals of Linguistics (3 units)
Prerequisite: Upper division standing.
Principles of modern linguistics, with attention to English phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics; universals and typology.

Linguistics 502: Language in Mind and Society (3 units)
Prerequisite: Linguistics 501.
Child language acquisition, adult language production/comprehension and sociolinguistics. Dialects, language variation, and standardization. Bilingualism and language change.

Linguistics 526: Discourse Analysis (3 units)
Prerequisite: Linguistics 420 or Linguistics 501.
Theories of discourse structure. Text and context. Frameworks for analyzing written and spoken discourses such as genre analysis, conversation analysis, critical discourse analysis, discourse and grammar, speech act theory, and corpus linguistics. Applications of discourse analysis such as cross-cultural misunderstanding.

Linguistics 551: Sociolinguistics (3 units)
Prerequisite: A course in introductory linguistics.
Investigation of the correlation of social structure and linguistic behavior.

Linguistics 553: Bilingualism (3 units)
Prerequisite: Linguistics 420, Linguistics 501, Linguistics 448, or Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences 300.
Bilingualism in society and in schools. Cognition, language processing, and representation in bilinguals. Research methods in the study of bilingualism.

Anthropology 102: Introduction to Socio-Cultural Anthropology (3 units) [GE]
Cross-cultural survey of systems of social, political, and economic organization, language, gender, kinship, religion, and subsistence; culture change and intercultural connections; ethnographic field methods and theories of culture; contemporary applications.

Anthropology 303: Principles of Socio-Cultural Anthropology (3 units)
Prerequisite: Anthropology 102.
Development of theories which explain nature of culture and cultural variation. Applications of theory of culture to field methods in ethnography and interpretation of ethnographic findings.

Anthropology 304: Principles of Anthropological Linguistics (3 units)
Prerequisite: Anthropology 102.
Structural nature of language. How languages differ, change and influence each other. Language families of the world. Significance of language for human social life in a variety of cultures.

Anthropology 410: Language in Culture (3 units) [GE]
Prerequisite: Anthropology 102.
Survey of anthropological interests in the study of language and of linguistic interests in the sociocultural context of language.

Sociology 410: Social Psychology: Mind, Self, and Society (3 units) [GE]
Prerequisite: Sociology 101.
Major theories, problems, and findings concerning the relationship of the individual and society. Topics include consciousness and construction of meaning, self-concept and social identity, socialization and interaction, group behavior and group membership.

Sociology 412: Social Construction of Reality (3 units)
Prerequisite: Sociology 101.
Analysis of reality as an ongoing social process. Creation and internalization of social worlds through language. Common sense and the multiple realities of everyday life. Dynamic emergence of social structure.

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Develop an understanding of how language varies according to socio-cultural factors, such as place, race, socio-economic status, sexuality, ethnicity, and gender.
  • Analyze discourses and their variation across social contexts using suitable discourse analytic frameworks.
  • Analyze the intersection of language and culture in bi- and multi-lingual societies.
  • Provide mastery of academic literacy skills needed to synthesize background literature, identify socio-cultural problems related to language use, and provide arguments for solutions.
  • Apply the understanding of language, culture, and society to challenges and opportunities found in a globalized and linguistically complex 21st century.

Download the curricular matrix.

Contact Us

Ian Ruston, Program Advisor
Email: [email protected] | Office: SHW 226


Important Links

SDSU Catalog | Class Schedule | Major Academic Plan (MAP)