LING 5800/7800 Statistics for Linguistic Research
Professor: Kevin Bretonnel Cohen
Thursday 3:30-6:00
Humanities 1B45
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LING 5800/7800 Statistics For Linguistic Research


This course is a broad introduction to statistical theory and methods for linguistics. The focuses of the course are:
  1. Gaining an in-depth understanding of statistical theory and methods by calculating statistics using a programming language.
  2. Applying statistics to a wide variety of sub-fields of linguistics.
  3. Learning to use the R programming language.

Course description

A crucial focus of the course is gaining familiarity with specific statistical measures by applying them to a wide variety of subfields of linguistics and types of linguistic data. To that end, the course will include applications of statistics in at least the following:
  • Corpus linguistics
  • Phonetics
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Field work
  • Natural language processing
  • Psycholinguistics: speech perception
  • Psycholinguistics: child language acquisition


There is no required textbook, but there are a number of books that you might find helpful. Any required readings will be placed on reserve in the Linguistics department or distributed in class.
  • Stefan Gries (2013) Statistics for linguistics with R: A practical introduction.
  • Anthony Woods, Paul Fletcher, and Arthur Hughes (1986) Statistics in language studies. Cambridge University Press.
  • Darrell Huff and Irving Geis (various dates) How to lie with statistics. W.W. Norton and Company.
  • Phillip Good and James Hardin (2012) Common errors in statistics (and how to avoid them)
  • Deborah Ray and Eric Ray (2010) Unix and Linux: Visual Quickstart Guide, 4th edition.
Any required readings will be placed on reserve in the Linguistics department or distributed in class.


Homework will be assigned every week and will be due via email by the beginning of class. Each week’s homework will consist of:
  1. Calculating an assigned statistic yourself, using a program that you write, an Excel spreadsheet, or a calculator and paper
  2. Validating your calculation using a built-in R function


100% of your grade comes from weekly homework. This is a very homework-intensive course. You cannot fall behind.

Office hours

M/W 12-2 and by appointment.

This document last modified 02/16/15 14:02.