photo of opened books and an ipad running a soundwave application on a desktop


Reed’s linguistics program introduces students to a range of courses in linguistic analysis and language and culture. Introductory classes are followed by courses that focus on core areas of analysis. Students can study sociolinguistics, language typology, and formal linguistics (phonology, syntax, semantics). Courses are also offered in areas as diverse as linguistic discrimination, language and gender, experimental phonetics and phonology, quantitative analysis, and field methods. Periodically, the department also arranges for courses on the structure of less familiar language families and regions, such as Austronesia and South Asia.

Linguistics at Reed has a rich interdisciplinary history, and the linguistics department encourages students to develop connections with other fields—including anthropology, sociology, philosophy, mathematics, psychology, computer science, and classical and modern languages and literatures. A set of allied field requirements (courses that may or may not be cross-listed with linguistics) and language requirements (competence in two languages other than English) allow linguistics majors to strengthen their training and explore how languages vary across time and cultures.

Many students also undertake linguistic fieldwork, both locally and abroad, and make use of our Lab of Linguistics (LoL), which provides both students and faculty access to a range of tools needed for research.

“The people in the Reed linguistics department are among the most caring, supportive, and brilliant people on campus. This expansive and well-rounded program fundamentally changes the way you think about language. What was once casual conversation becomes subconscious listening to and analyzing of syntax, phonology, and variation.” MONTREAL BENESCH ’22

Professor profile

Professors Kara Becker & Sameer ud Dowla Khan

Creaky Voice & Gender Identity
photo of Professors Kara Becker and Sameer ud Dowla Khan

Professors Kara Becker and Sameer ud Dowla Khan are investigating the complex relationship between gender identity and the use of creaky voice quality—often called “vocal fry” in the media. Vocal fry produces a gravelly sound, especially when ending a sentence. The project includes acoustic, electroglottographic, and perceptual data that is available to the larger community of linguistics researchers on Dataverse.

Students working as research assistants for this faculty-led project are involved in a range of activities, from setting up appointments with participants to preparing and coding audio recordings. The research has been published in a recent issue of Language Variation and Change.

Download Linguistics Flyer as a PDF

Graduate Schools Frequently Attended by Reed Linguistics Alumni

  • University of Chicago
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Columbia University
  • University of Washington
  • University of Oregon
  • University of California, Los Angeles

Opportunities & Resources

Reed’s Lab of Linguistics (LoL) houses a sound-attenuated recording booth, articulatory data collection equipment, an electroglottograph, and several types of audio equipment, including microphones, digital recorders, speakers, and headphones available for research. LoL supports research by faculty and students; at least half of senior linguistics majors use the lab to make recordings, conduct interviews, and conduct experiments for their theses.

What Alumni Do After Graduation

Education 30%
Business 26%
Information Technology 15%
Other 15%
Arts 8%
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics 6%

What Do Alumni Do?

Restoration Crew Lead
Native Plantscapes NW
Andrea Bryant ’21

Field Instructor
Second Nature Wilderness Family Therapy
Olivia Johnson ’20

Senior Bookseller
Barnes & Noble, Inc.
Caroline Wright ’18

Maren Fichter ’15

Director of Programs and Community Relations
Communitas America
Esmeralda Herrera ’14

Biomedical Research Assistant
Center for Spoken Language Understanding
Katherine Wu ’11

Linguistic Consultant
Jessica Coon ’04

Network Security Lead
Esteban Gutierrez ’94