Linguistics is devoted to the scientific study of language. The central goal of the discipline is to develop an account of human’s cognitive ability to produce and comprehend language.  As one of the world’s leading programs, the Linguistics department at USC is at the forefront of scientific progress in the study of language.  The primary research areas represented in the department are phonetics, phonology, psycholinguistics, semantics, and syntax. The department is also involved in interdisciplinary relations with other fields, including psychology, philosophy, computer science, and electrical engineering.

Primary Research Areas

  • Phonetics
  • Phonology
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Semantics
  • Syntax


Language Areas

While the program centers on the general theoretical study of language, it also encourages the detailed examination and analysis of individual languages. The faculty have expertise in a range of language areas, including Romance, Germanic, and Slavic languages, and the languages of East Asia, South Asia, and mainland Southeast Asia.  With a strong core of graduate students with knowledge in these areas, the USC Linguistics department is now one of the foremost centers for the study of comparative linguistics.


Interdisciplinary Research

The Linguistics department fosters and encourages interdisciplinary research within all areas that touch upon language and linguistics. One area of regular cooperation is that of Linguistics with Psycholinguistics, which brings together faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students from Psychology, Linguistics, and Computer Science.  A second, major area of collaboration involves interactions between the Department of Linguistics and the USC School of Philosophy, developing an interdisciplinary program in semantics and the philosophy of language.