Senior Capstone Seminar

Winter 2017
Dan Jurafsky

Senior capstone seminar. Joint readings in an annually varying topic, exploring the implications and importance of linguistic research for other domains of knowledge or practice.

Potential Topics

Week Date Chair Topics
Is there a moral obligation to protect endangered languages?
Language Revival: What does it mean for it to be successful?
Linguistics of Social Media
Are all languages equally complex?
  • McWhorter, John. 2001. The world's simplest grammars are creole grammars. Linguistic typology 5, no. 2/3 (2001): 125-166. Read 125-135, (skim 135-141), 141-143, 154-155 (section 4.4).
  • Trudgill, Peter. 2012. On the sociolinguistic typology of linguistic complexity loss. In Potentials of Language Documentation: Methods, Analyses, and Utilization, ed. by Frank Seifart, Geoffrey Haig, Nikolaus P. Himmelmann, Dagmar Jung, Anna Margetts, and Paul Trilsbeek, pp. 90-95
  • Patrick Juola. 2007. Assessing Linguistic Complexity. In Miestamo, Matti, Kaius Sinnemaki and Fred Karlsson (eds.) Language Complexity: Typology, Contact, Change. Amsterdam : John Benjamins Press. Read pages 1-3, 12-15, 18-22, optional (but recommended) 22-35
Linguistics of Advertising and Branding
Language and Political Persuasion
Whorf: Language, Thought, and Culture
Laguage and Music
  • Slevc, L. Robert, and Akira Miyake. "Individual Differences in Second-Language Proficiency Does Musical Ability Matter?." Psychological Science 17, no. 8 (2006): 675-681.
  • Donnay, Gabriel F., Summer K. Rankin, Monica Lopez-Gonzalez, Patpong Jiradejvong, and Charles J. Limb. 2014. "Neural Substrates of Interactive Musical Improvisation: An fMRI Study of `Trading Fours' in Jazz." PloS one 9, no. 2 (2014): e88665.
  • Aniruddh D Patel. 2003. Language, music, syntax and the brain. Nature Neuroscience 6:7 674-681
  • Erin McMullen and Jenny R. Saffran. 2004. Music and Language: A Developmental Comparison. Music Perception Spring 2004, Vol. 21, No. 3, 289-311
Societal Implications of Language Learning
  • Hart, Betty, and Todd R. Risley. 1995. Meaningful differences in the everyday experience of young American children. Paul H Brookes Publishing.
  • Fernald, A., Marchman, V. A. and Weisleder, A. (2012). SES differences in language processing skill and vocabulary are evident at 18 months. Developmental Science.
Linguistics of Courtship and Sex
Linguistics, Literature and the Humanities
Linguistics of Deception
  • Larcker, David F., and Anastasia A. Zakolyukina. "Detecting deceptive discussions in conference calls." Journal of Accounting Research 50, no. 2 (2012): 495-540.
  • Ott, Myle, Yejin Choi, Claire Cardie, and Jeffrey T. Hancock. "Finding deceptive opinion spam by any stretch of the imagination." In Proceedings of the 49th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies-Volume 1, pp. 309-319. Association for Computational Linguistics, 2011.
Linguistics and Decipherment
Historical Linguistics, Archaeology, Evolution
  • Sicoli, Mark A., and Gary Holton. "Linguistic Phylogenies Support Back-Migration from Beringia to Asia." PloS one 9, no. 3 (2014): e91722.
  • Gray, Russell D., and Quentin D. Atkinson. "Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin." Nature 426, no. 6965 (2003): 435-439.
  • J. Nichols and T. Warnow, "Tutorial on computational linguistic phylogeny." Linguistics and Language Compass, Vol. 2, Issue 5, September 2008, pages 760-820.
Conversation Offline and Online

Course Information


Dan Jurafsky (
Office: Margaret Jacks 117
Course Description

Senior capstone seminar. Joint readings in an annually varying topic. The focus this year will be "linguistics across disciplines and domains", exploring the implications and importance of linguistic research for other domains of knowledge or practice.

Required Work

Weekly reading, a written commentary each week on the reading, and discussion of the weekly reading. In addition, each student will be leading discussion for two of the weekly topics.