Courses in Linguistics (Division 423)

112. Languages of the World. (3). (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, and two hour exams. No prerequisites. Cost:1 (Myhill/Staff)

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

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). (Beddor)

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 and the role of the brain in speech. We will then review major aspects of language structure (sounds, words, sentences) and apply them to discussions of the origin of language, the history of the English language, as well as to discussions of current dialects of English such as Black English. After a brief investigation of the relationship between language and thought, we will consider social attitudes toward language. Here we will debate questions such as: Is sign language a real language or just pantomime? What is "Standard English" and is it better than "dialects" of English? Is there any linguistic evidence supporting the notion of English as a racist and sexist language or is this notion purely an imaginary construct devised to create controversy? The course concludes The course concludes with an examination of the importance of nonverbal communication (body language) in every day interactions and with an examination of how language is subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) manipulated in advertisements. Course work includes eight short homework assignments, one midterm examination and weekly participation in a computer conference. The final exam is optional. Cost:2 WL:1 (Cooper/Keller-Cohen)

305/Communication 305. Political and Advertising Discourse. Junior standing. (3). (Excl).

Magazine advertisements, political communications, and sermons are one-sided and persuasive. They are distinguish a speaker/producer from an audience but work best by simulating dialogue. They influence behavior but while some aim squarely at "closing", others just create predispositions. Ambiguity allows individuals to interpret them in different ways. We will start by studying how ads are experienced by magazine visual entry points, color and composition, typography and photography, subliminality, the interaction of text and picture. We then consider speeches and sermons "poetic" patterns, peaks and valleys, "conversational" devices, allusion and citation to generate frameworks of shared meaning. We treat political debates as hybrids between oratory and conversation. Some recurrent topics are humor, vulgarity, ambiguity, and audience involvement. Assignments are typically of the type, "Analyze this ad (speech, etc."), but there are also opportunities to create advertisements (in sketch form) and to perform in debates and party conventions. Cost:2 WL:4 (Heath)

313(312). Sound Patterns. Sophomore standing. (3). (SS).

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. (Duanmu)

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

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.

317(313). Language and History. (3). (HU).

All languages evolve in the context of a society. This course will focus on the ways in which the study of language history and political or social history can complement each other. The first part of the course will examine how the findings of linguistic reconstruction can aid the historian in describing the culture of earlier society or determining prehistoric migrations and homeland of different peoples. The specific examples to be used are Proto-Indoeuropean, Proto-Altaic (including Japanese and Korean), Proto-Uralic and Proto-Polynesian. The second half of the course will examine how major events in social and political history affected the development of the languages which were the affected culture's vehicle of expression. Illustrations to be used include the Chinese cultural influence on Japan, Korea and Vietnam; the spread of Islam; the rise and fall of Mongol empire, the European conquest of America, and the totalitarian regimes of twentieth century. There will be two exams and a term paper. Readings will be made available in handouts. Knowledge of a foreign language is not necessary. Cost:1 WL:3 (Vovin)

350. Perspectives on Second Language Learning and Second Language Instruction. (3). (Excl).

The purpose of this course is to explore past and current directions in both theoretical and practical aspects of second/foreign language learning and teaching. From a learner-centered premise that second language instruction is concerned with enabling learners to use the second language effectively and comfortably to reach their own personal, educational, occupational, and social objectives, this course will examine a number of language learning/teaching paradigms and will study the changing forms and functions of methodologies, learning activities, and instructional materials involved. Perspectives on the learner will focus on learners as active creators in their learning process, not as passive recipients. Perspectives on the teacher will focus on teachers as managers of language-learning experiences, not just drill-leaders and presenters of material. Students will have opportunities to reflect upon and analyze their own language learning experiences, past/present, and those of others. Cost:2 WL:1 (Morley)

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

See English 406. (Cureton)

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) and language acquisition Students will be required to submit short problems from time to time, but grades will be based upon two hour exams and a final. (Hook)

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 mid-term, a final exam and a language project. No prerequisites, but an introductory linguistics course is strongly recommended. Cost:2 WL:4 (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. (Lawler)

415. Generative Syntax. (3). (Excl).

This course will introduce students to the concepts and methods of syntactic analysis and argumentation. We will explore syntactic regularities in a wide range of data taken from English, as well as a number of other languages, and consider how these generalizations are to be expressed in a theoretical framework. The requirements include weekly assignments, and a final paper.

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

This course explores the nature of historical relationships between languages, processes of linguistic change (a universal feature of all living languages) and the assumptions, methods, and tools employed by linguists in studying this phenomenon. Insofar as possible, examples of linguistic change and analytical techniques will be illustrated through a study of the history of three language families: Germanic, Romance, and Semitic. There will be midterm and final examinations as well as a term paper and other short written assignments. Prerequisite: Linguistics 411 or equivalent. Cost:1 WL:3 (Dworkin)

419. Discourse Analysis. A course in linguistics, junior standing, or permission of instructor. (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.

442/Anthro. 478. Introduction to Sociolinguistics. Ling. 411 or equivalent. (3). (Excl).

Language variation is present in every society; ethnicity, gender, social class, education, and place of origin all play a role in determining which language or dialect a person speaks and how they use it. At the same time, the language or dialect a person speaks is a crucial factor in determining the position of that person in society, both in terms of professional achievement and in terms of their understanding of their own identity. This class will discuss this mutual dependency of language and societal role. We will focus on issues directly affecting the lives and thoughts of most Americans: attitudes towards different languages and dialects and the historical and social motivations for these attitudes, questions about why different ethnic and gender groups use language differently and how this is evaluated, preservation of ancestral languages, and language policy. We will also look at how other societies deal with these issues to provide students with alternative perspectives. The required work for the class is four short (5-7 pp.) papers. Cost:1(Myhill)

473/Anthropology 473. Ethnopoetics: Cross-Cultural Approaches to Verbal Art. Two courses in anthropology, linguistics or literature, or permission of instructor. (3; 2 in the half-term). (Excl).

See Anthropology 473. (Bierwert)

541/CS 595/EECS 595. Natural Language Processing. Senior standing. (3). (Excl).

See Computer Science 595.


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