LING 492 - Topics in Linguistics
Fall 2022, Section 002 - Language and Social Meaning
Instruction Mode: Section 002 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Linguistics (LING)
Department: LSA Linguistics
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Waitlist Capacity:
May be repeated for a maximum of 18 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/29/22 - 12/9/22 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


When we listen to others, we immediately start forming opinions about who they are. They “sound” feminine, or intelligent, or Black, or gay, or Californian, or maybe all of the above! Even NPR host Peter Sagal once had someone shake his hand and say “That’s so funny—you don’t sound bald!” But why? How do you listen to someone and decide whether or not they have hair? 

This course will answer this question from the perspective of variationist sociolinguistics—the branch of linguistics that looks at how our talk varies, in large (do you say cart or buggy?) and miniscule (what intonation do you use when you want to sound offended?) ways. We’ll learn how we can unearth the social meanings attached to these large and small differences and explore the extent to which those meanings reflect our attitudes about larger social structures such as those of race, class, gender, and power. 

To explore this, we will read some of the foundational works in the variation literature, and then look at the ways those foundational findings have been complicated in more recent work.  We’ll also practice testing our assumptions about these connections through small scale surveys and experiments. You’ll learn hands-on through small, semi-weekly assignments, and then have an opportunity to thoroughly explore a topic of your own choosing through a final project.

Intended Audience:

Undergraduate and graduate students who have interest in the intersections of language and social culture. Prior exposure to the basic concepts of phonetics (LING 313 or 512) will be helpful but is in no way required.


LING 492 - Topics in Linguistics
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
8/29/22 - 12/9/22
002 (SEM)
 In Person
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
8/29/22 - 12/9/22

Textbooks/Other Materials

The partner U-M / Barnes & Noble Education textbook website is the official way for U-M students to view their upcoming textbook or course material needs, whether they choose to buy from Barnes & Noble Education or not. Students also can view a customized list of their specific textbook needs by clicking a "View/Buy Textbooks" link in their course schedule in Wolverine Access.

Click the button below to view and buy textbooks for LING 492.002

View/Buy Textbooks


Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for LING 492 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi

CourseProfile (Atlas)

The Atlas system, developed by the Center for Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (Atlas)