Courses in Linguistics (Division 423)

112(111). Languages of the World. (4). (SS).

This course is intended for those who are curious about human language but who have not had courses or formal training in linguistics. We will examine selected languages from various parts of the world to see what they can tell us about human languages in general: How are they alike and how do they differ? How do they change? How do they help structure the worlds and societies of their speakers? At the same time students will gain some insight into how linguists proceed in their task of analysis and explanation. They will also learn how to confront texts in languages they do not know. There are weekly problem sets, readings, a midterm, and a final. No prerequisites. [Cost:2] [WL:1] (Section 001 Hook; Section 002 Staff)

114. A World of Words. (3). (HU).

The English language is said to have almost a quarter-million words; words for everything from aardvarks to zygotes. There are a lot of questions to ask about words: Do we really have all the words we need? How do we know what they mean? Why is English spelling so weird (or is it wierd)? Why are some words considered BAD and others GOOD? Where do words come from, anyway? In this course we will study and attempt to answer these and other questions about the English language and its vocabulary. Topics covered include: morphology and phonetics (the internal structure of words); etymology (word history); Indo-European linguistics (how English is related to other languages); lexical semantics (how words mean); and social and cultural implications of our vocabulary and its use. In the process we can expect: (1) some vocabulary development, with particular attention to Greek and Latin roots in common use in English; (2) an increased sensitivity to words of all sorts and to their uses and probable meanings; (3) an improved understanding of how words are used to name and describe various concepts and things and how they can be misused as well; (4) a novel and interesting viewpoint on the position of our language and culture in world history and geography, as a result not of official political or institutional events, but of its continuing evolution. Assignments include readings, homework problems, three papers at monthly intervals, participation both in class and in a computer conference, and a (take home) final exam. [Cost:2] (Lawler)

210. Introduction to Linguistics. (3). (SS).

A Collegiate Fellows course; see page 3 of this COURSE GUIDE for a complete list of Collegiate Fellows courses. Nothing is more distinctly human than our ability to talk, to use language. Because of that, we expect that the study of language can provide us insight into the things that combine to make "human nature." Since language is a product of what we call "mind," "culture," and "society," it provides us with concrete data through which we can study those very abstract things. This course is an introduction to the methods which linguists have developed in the process of analyzing and describing human languages. Our study will draw on examples from a large number of the languages of the world (including observations of the language habits of U of M students and faculty). We will look at the sounds of language, how they are produced, and how they are patterned into words. We will study the diverse ways in which individual languages approach the processes of word and sentence formation, while we try to decide if there are processes which are universal to all human languages. In spite of this, we will focus our attention on the methods of inquiry: How does a linguist decide what ought to be studied in a given language? How do we go about collecting data? When do we know we have enough? What techniques do we have for making sense of our data? What kinds of conclusions are we led to, what do we do if our methods lead us to different accounts of the same phenomenon? In other words, our focus will be on the processes of analysis and the methods of critical thinking as they apply to the study of language. Daily exercises will afford opportunities to collect data, define problems and propose tentative solutions. Class lecture/discussions and longer bi-weekly assignments will present methods of argumentation and develop problem solving skills. There will be a midterm and a final exam. (The only prerequisites are good will and enthusiasm). (Toon)

211. Introduction to Language. (3). (SS).

From time immemorial human beings have been curious about language - about its structure, its diversity, its use, and its effects on others. In this course, we will explore the human capacity for language, beginning with the ways language differs from animal communication and with how children acquire language. We will then review major aspects of language structure (sounds, words, sentences), and show how variations on standard English such as English creole, Black English, and sign language can be described. Finally, we show how everyday language already has the properties (rhythmic alternations, sound symbolism, perspective shifts, parallelism, and metaphor) that are developed into poetic language and political oratory. [Cost:1] [WL:2] (Cooper)

313(312). Sound Patterns. Ling. 210 or 211 or 411; or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).

This course explores two fundamental aspects of the sounds of human languages: speech sounds as physical entities (phonetics) and speech sounds as linguistic units (phonology). In viewing sounds as physical elements, the focus is articulatory descriptions: How are speech sounds made? What types of articulatory movements and configurations are used to differentiate sounds in the world's languages? In this part of the course, the goal is to learn to produce, transcribe, and describe in articulatory terms many of the sounds known to occur in human languages. In the next part of the course, the focus is on sounds as members of a particular linguistic system. Phonological data from a wide range of languages are analyzed that is, regularities or patterns in sound distribution are extracted from the data set and then stated within a formal phonological framework. We will also construct arguments to support the proposed analyses, and will find that phonetic factors play a crucial role in validating phonological analyses. Throughout the course, a major emphasis is that speech sounds are simultaneously physical and linguistic elements, and that these two aspects of sound structure are interdependent. Class sessions will consist of lectures, phonetic practice, and discussion of phonological data sets. Course grades will be based on weekly assignments, and midterm and final exams. Linguistics 210, 211, 411, or permission of instructor is required to take the course. (Beddor)

315. Introduction to Sentence Analysis. (3). (Excl).

One of the basic things speakers of English know is in what order to put the words of a sentence. Generally we put the subject before the verb and the direct object after the verb. Speakers of the Brazilian language Hixkaryana also put words in a particular order, although this order is the mirror image of English's. Of course this basic level does not exhaust the expressive power of either English or Hixkaryana. The Hixkaryana sentence "Kko wehxakona huhyaye romryen haxa, amryekhen komo rma; koseryehyakona, romryena." may be translated as "In my boyhood, before I was one of the hunters, I used to live there, downriver; and I used to be afraid" but its form is strikingly different from English: literally "there I was downriver, my boyhood yet, not a hunter, not one of the hunters, I was afraid, my boyhood." Initially, English and Hixkaryana look like opposites, but they actually demonstrate both the rich differences and common features of human language. For example, in English we say "John likes himself" but we don't often say "John convinced Sally to marry himself"; Hixkaryana works the same way. So do German, Japanese, Russian and Navajo. Are such differences and similarities between English and Hixkaryana (or Navajo) accidental, or are there ways in which all languages are similar? In this course we will explore variety and regularity in the ways languages organize words into phrases and sentences. We will consider approaches to the study of the sentence as a unit of human language and we will attempt to formulate a theory of how languages may differ, what ways languages must be the same, and (an obviously related question) how humans go about the difficult task of learning a language. The requirements will include regular, short written assignments, and participants will submit a short paper analyzing an unfamiliar language. [Cost:1] [WL:4] (Alexander)

406/English 406. Modern English Grammar. (3). (Excl).

See English 406. (Cureton)

409/Anthro. 472. Language and Culture. (3). (HU).

This course deals with the cultural, experiential, and social basis of meaning systems as expressed in linguistic structures and patterns of language use. Topics include color, kinship, flora-fauna, and space-time. There is a double emphasis: on comparisons between English and "exotic" languages, but also on the multiple aspects of semantic systems within a language. The course concludes with analyses of the semantics of special linguistic varieties such as slang, "ethnic" English, and ritual languages. [Cost:1] [WL:1] (Heath)

411. Introduction to Linguistics. Not open to students with credit for Ling. 211. (3). (SS).

This course is an introduction to the objectives and methods of modern linguistics. We will be especially concerned with phonetics and phonology (the nature and organization of the sounds of language) and with morphology and syntax (the formation of words and the organization of words into larger phrases and sentences). We will consider how all these aspects of language vary from one dialect or language to another, from one social group to another, and from one situation to another, and we will ask how and why they change through time. Some attention will also be given to semantics and pragmatics (how languages convey meanings, and how meanings interact with situations). Students will be required to submit short problems from time to time, but grades will be based upon two hour exams and a final. [Cost:1] [WL:2] (Croft)

412. Phonetics. (3). (Excl).

This is an introduction to phonetics (the study of the nature of speech sounds). The course will focus on (1) the description of speech sounds in terms of their articulatory, acoustic and perceptual characteristics and (2) the production and translation of sounds that occur in languages of the world. Class meetings will comprise lectures on articulation, acoustics or perception. Weekly labs will include drills in producing and transcribing particular classes of speech sounds and computer analysis of speech. Course grades will be based on small projects, a midterm and a final exam (and a language project for graduate students). No prerequisites, but an introductory linguistics course is strongly recommended. [Cost:1] [WL:2] (Cooper)

414. Semantics and Pragmatics. Linguistics 401. (3). (Excl).

This is an introduction to semantic and pragmatic aspects of language. The primary emphasis is on grammatical categories (often expressed by means of affixes), with secondary attention to the lexicon and to utterance-level meaning. Topics include number, diminutive/augmentative, gender and noun-class, numeral classifiers, discourse categories like topic and focus, possession, case, tense and aspect, mood, negation, voice, nominalization, and adjectival categories. Analytical concepts developed include the (rather leaky) semantics/pragmatics boundary, covert lexical categories (cryptotypes), prototypes, and extensionism. The course requires extensive reading of journal articles, mostly dealing with data from unfamiliar languages. Two short papers, final exam. Designed for early graduate and advanced undergraduate students. [Cost:1] [WL:1] (Heath)

417/Anthro. 476/German 417. Principles and Methods of Historical Linguistics. Ling. 411 or equivalent. (3). (Excl).

This course explores the assumptions underlying the establishment of historical relationships between languages. Techniques of internal and comparative reconstruction of related languages and types of linguistic change will be considered. Linguistics 411, or equivalent, is prerequisite. (Wiegand)

419. Discourse Analysis. Linguistics 401. (3). (Excl).

This course will study turn-taking and conversation structure, referent status (topic and focus), information status (given/new, foregrounding), cohesion and coherence in texts, and the role of belief systems (knowledge, and social status) in text construction. Linguistics 401 is prerequisite. (Myhill)

451(350)/Psych. 451. Development of Language and Thought. Introductory psychology. (3). (SS).

See Psychology 451. (Shatz)

492. Topics in Linguistics. (3). (Excl). May be elected for credit twice.

SECTION 001 INTRODUCTION TO COGNITIVE GRAMMAR. What goes on in your head when you talk, or listen to someone else talk? This course will present the grammar of English from a cognitive perspective, based on psychological models of the storage and processing of concepts in the mind. In this perspective, grammar is a cognitive system that evolved in response to two major adaptive pressures: (1) constraints imposed by the structure of the human mind and (2) the need to encode, transmit and decode meaning in words and sentences. Language is a symbolic system, and the structure of the symbol (i.e., the sentences) can be explained in large part as a reflection of how we conceptualize the world. Grammar appears to be a gigantic network of stored constructions in the mind, and the processes of expression and understanding are ones of categorizing concepts in the "right" place in the network. We will explore the cognitive grammar of English, with occasional comparisons to other languages. Prerequisite: an introductory linguistics course (e.g., Linguistics 210, 211, or 411) or permission of the instructor. [Cost:3, including recommended reading] [WL:2] (Croft)


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