This course examines selected languages of Asia and what they can tell us about the societies that have used them: how they work, how they are distributed geographically and socially, how they are connected to each other, how (and whether) they have been written, what their status has been, and how all these things have changed in response to historical processes. We will focus primarily on East, South, and Southeast Asia. The course is organized into four main parts:
- Preliminaries (basic geography and history, basic linguistic concepts)
- Asian language families
- Writing systems
- Language in culture and politics
Course requirements include regular reading assignments, homework exercises, occasional quizzes (not always announced in advance), class presentations, two 6-8 page papers, and active participation in class.
There are no prerequisites; no previous knowledge of Asian languages is assumed and all required readings will be in English.
3 hours per week in lecture format