The Theory of Language Department started in 1993 as a division of the Faculty of Philology, providing education for students majoring in general linguistics. Graduates deliver lectures on general linguistics at other higher education establishments and colleges that teach humanities, carry out research at specialized language research institutions, as well as work as teachers of English at schools and colleges and undertake professional translations.
Theory of Language is the only educational unit to prepare highly qualified experts in linguistic theory in St. Petersburg. Its course programme, compiled by leading linguists, is firmly rooted in the traditions of the St. Petersburg School of Linguistics. We have also made use of the experience of colleagues from the Moscow University Chair of Structural and Applied Linguistics.
In 2005-2006 the Department introduced a system of two-level degree education, i.e. the BL ("Bachelor of Linguistics", a 4-year course) and the ML ("Master of Linguistics", a 2-year course).
Following the syllabus, students will master several contemporary foreign languages: English (as a 1st foreign language), German, French and Spanish (as 2nd and 3d foreign languages). In addition, several ancient languages Ц Latin, Greek and Old Russian, are included as compulsory subjects. Students wishing to take up a language which is not on the programme, may be able to join a language group in other departments. For example, a Baltic language (Lithuanian or Latvian) or a Balkan language (Albanian or Modern Greek) since the three departments: General Linguistics, Albanian Language and Literature, as well as Byzantine Studies are subdivisions of the Chair, organizationally.
The main body of academic study for students of linguistics is composed mainly of linguistic theory courses. They are: Introduction to General Linguistics (developed by Professor V.B. Kasevich specially for students of linguistic theory); Phonetics and Phonology; Lexicology and Lexicography; Morphology; Theory of Syntax; Semantics and Pragmatics. Students will gain a wide view of language type varieties through lectures on "Languages of the World", learn about the latest developments in modern linguistics through "New Directions in Linguistics", and through Psycho- and Sociolinguistics, Anthropological Linguistics, Typology and Contrastive Linguistics, and some others. Apart from theoretical material, students will participate in ten supplementary course subjects and six workshops of their choice. The Chair aims to provide students with an exciting choice of courses and workshops.
Second year students engage in their own piece of research to be submitted in the spring as a course assignment. In the fourth year students prepare their diploma papers to be presented for the public defense procedure under the auspices of State Certification Board.
The Department of Language Theory welcomes young people with a gift for modern and ancient languages and those taking a real interest in linguistic theory. These students will undoubtedly contribute to the introduction and development of new ideas of theoretical linguistics in future.
Theory of Language offers its students a flexible programme which enables them to specialize in a particular linguistic area as well as acquire basic education in language theory . The options to make one's choice are contained in master plans of psycho-, socio- and anthropological linguistics, as well as comparative linguistics and history of linguistics.
A great attention is also paid to learning foreign languages.
On passing final examinations and publicly defending their diploma paper a student receives a standard certificate of higher education and a qualification of "Linguist. Reader" in the field of "Linguistics"; majoring in "Theory of linguistics".
In the course of the first semester (see semester plans below) students are studying just one new modern language, English (6 hours weekly) and three ancient languages, Latin, Greek, Old Slavonic (4 hours weekly). The course of Old Slavonic is 1semester; Greek is 2 semesters; Latin is 4 semesters. The second semester will add a second modern foreign language (either German, or French, or Spanish) for 6 hours weekly for five semesters and one more with 4 hours weekly. Together with languages students are supposed to start intensively on a number of specific linguistic courses: introduction to general linguistics, in the 1st semester; phonetics and phonology, lexicology and lexicography, the history of the Russian language and introduction to sociolinguistics, in the 2nd semester. Of the non-linguistic courses the students are supposed to attend lectures in Russian history, mathematics and informatics.
The 4th semester of second year will welcome a third foreign language (either German, French or Spanish) in addition to other two. The duration of the course is two semesters, 4 hours weekly. Students continue studying Latin as well as start a workshop intended to introduce them to their first independent piece of linguistic research to be presented publicly at the end of the academic year.
Theory-wise, students are given lectures in morphology, theory of syntax, psycho- and ethnolinguistics, theory of modern Russian(part 1 - morphology) as well as philosophy, logics, Standard Russian speech and the concepts of modern science. Since their 3d semester every students is supposed to attend a specialized lecture course and a specialized workshop of one's choice.
The third year means the continuation of learning English as the first language and one of (German, French, Spanish) as the second. The final examination in the third foreign language falls on the end of the 6th semester. The new courses for 5-6th semesters will be: linguistic research statistics; introduction to comparative linguistics (2-semester course of lectures); theory of modern Russian (part 2, syntax); language sof the world (a 2 semester course); text linguistics; English language theory. Besides, our students are taught psychology and pedagogy as well as modern philosophy abroad. Since their third year students participate in a specialized workshop of their choice and prepare their piece of linguistic research as a publicly presented written course paper.
The 7th semester opens with 6-week teaching practice at 610 S. Petersburg classic lyceum, where students engage in passive and active teaching of English and German. The end of the semester is marked by the second foreign language final examination. Obligatory theory courses in the fourth year are as follows: introduction into language typology and contrastive linguistics; the history of linguistic ideas; the basics of comparative linguistics; semantics and pragmatics; new directions in modern linguistics; cognitive linguistics. In addition, the students are have a course of cultural anthropology and a lecture course and a workshop of their choice in each semester. During their pre-diploma period which coincides with the 8th semester students collect and classify language material for their final papers as well as read up on theoretical issues of their research. Linguistic problems and results of their research are discussed by fellow students in their pre-diploma workshop under the supervision of professors and docents of the Chair and of other divisions of the Philological faculty should the need arise.
Some students get an opportunity to spend their pre-diploma semester in one of the European universities.
The fourth year is the end of the baccaureate course, and language theory students are to take final state examinations with Theoretical linguistics as their major and English as a foreign language and submit their written diploma paper for public defense. If a bachelor programme graduate has passed his or her examinations with high grades he or she has a right to take a trial examination or trial talk to continue one's education at the next level, a two-year master programme.