LING 210 - Introduction to Linguistic Analysis
Section: 001
Term: WN 2008
Subject: Linguistics (LING)
Department: LSA Linguistics
Requirements & Distribution:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

A large part of your brain is devoted to language (a lot more than is devoted to morality). Because this allows you to use language effortlessly, you pay little conscious attention to it in daily life. It is only when you struggle to learn a foreign language, or deal with persons with linguistic disabilities, or get involved in a contractual dispute, that you are forced to think consciously about your own native language.

Linguistics dissects languages into their elements, and then tries to figure out how the pieces fit together. Each language can be thought of as consisting of a vocabulary (lexicon) that organizes concepts relevant to a particular cultural and natural environment, and a grammar (i.e. a processing system) that enables speakers to combine elements into phrases and sentences. It turns out that there are many viable designs for such a system, the result being a remarkable diversity of linguistic structures around the world. This seems to be because a grammar takes messages that are organized in a relational hierarchy (we can represent them as tree diagrams with many branches), and has to express them in a flat, linear sequence (the acoustic signal). This is an engineering challenge for which many solutions are available.

The course is heavy on data sets, some of them from languages you have never heard of. You will learn how to chop up sentences into phrases, phrases into words, words into morphemes, and morphemes into phonemes. You will examine spectrograms of your own utterances, and will learn how the gestures of your chest, vocal folds, jaw, tongue, lips, and velum create the acoustic disturbances that allow listeners to recognize vowels and consonants. You will learn to use phonetic symbols to transcribe these sounds, instead of ordinary spelling. You will learn about important differences among languages, and their worldwide geographic distributions (using a linguistic atlas); for example, how to order subject object and verb, how to express ‘X has Y’, and how many ways there are to say ‘we’. We may even be able to shed some light on the dreaded subjunctive.

LING 210 - Introduction to Linguistic Analysis
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
002 (DIS)
F 9:00AM - 10:00AM
003 (DIS)
F 11:00AM - 12:00PM
004 (DIS)
F 12:00PM - 1:00PM
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