LING 111 - Introduction to Language
Section: 101
Term: SP 2008
Subject: Linguistics (LING)
Department: LSA Linguistics
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

People believe a lot of amazing things about language: dolphins can talk, there's such a thing as a split infinitive, Eskimos have 42 words for snow, the Internet is destroying English, some people speak an inferior 'dialect' while others speak 'properly', etc. Most of these beliefs hold deep psychological appeal (e.g., the tantalizing promise of an inter-species chat) or seem to just make common sense (e.g., people who live waist deep in snow probably have more ways of talking about it).

In this course we'll try to play linguistic myth busters and learn to decide for ourselves whether a claim is true, plausible, or can be rejected. What would a dolphin have to do to be said to possess 'language'? What would it mean for one language to be 'better' than another? What is an 'infinitive', really, and what would it mean to 'split' it? Could it be true that the language we use literally dictates the topics we can think about? We'll look at what linguists know, what evidence they use to know it, and how to assess the quality of that evidence in our daily lives. The course will be structured around the textbook with occasional supplementary readings from other textbooks, newspapers, blogs, and, if we get ambitious, original research.

LING 111 - Introduction to Language
Schedule Listing
101 (LEC)
TuWTh 1:00PM - 3:00PM
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