Courses in Linguistics (Division 423)

112. Languages of the World. (3). (SS).

Language is a central concern of humankind and with good reason. As the conduit for most communicative and expressive needs as well as other tasks, it pervades virtually every aspect of human existence. Few realize, however, how truly rich the linguistic universe is until they consider the variety of distinct linguistic devices and practices employed by speakers of the 5000+ individual languages that have been identified to date. Appreciating and being able to explain the range of variety of spoken and written language among various peoples of the world is an essential key to understanding human culture and diversity. This course systematically addresses many of the questions which most fascinate us about language, thus widening our intercultural horizons and enhancing our sophistication about our own language and culture. It therefore serves those who wish to learn about both our own and other societies, particular languages or regions of the world, and the nature of the human mind. (Cooper)

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

Nothing is more distinctly human than our ability 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 analytic introduction to the methods which linguists for describing human languages. Our study will draw on examples from a large number of the languages of the world. 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 studying these various aspects of language structure, we will focus our attention on such questions as: How does a linguist decide what ought to be studied in a given language? How do we go about collecting data? What techniques do we have for making sense of our data? What kinds of conclusions are we led to, and how do we justify these conclusions? What do we do if our methods lead us to different accounts of the same phenomenon? Our answers to these questions will show us the extent to which our understanding of the object of inquiry (language) is influenced by our methods of inquiry.
There is no text and no readings. But there are assignments: (1) daily homework problems (counting for 15% of course grade), (2) weekly large-scale analysis problems (15%), (3) participation, in class and in a computer conference (15%), (4) quizzes (15%), (5) a midterm exam (15%), and (6) a final exam (25%). Exercises will be problem-solving assignments, involving analysis of phonetic, phonological, morphological, or syntactic data from various languages. (Lawler)

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

The study of language offers a way of looking at some of the most significant aspects of human experience. Language reflects and structures the way we think. It creates and is created by power relationships expressed through gender, race, class and geography. Language offers us avenues for resistance as well as oppression. Through this course we will attempt to understand the many different roles language plays in our social and psychological lives. At the same time we will also learn some of the fundamentals of language structure which are basic to an appreciation of large-scale language issues. Course assignments will likely include homework/projects, and hourly exams. There will be a combination of course texts including background information as well as a selection of readings. (Keller-Cohen)

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

Magazine ads and political speeches are monologues, but work best by simulating dialogue at key points. They require a powerful "message" that cuts through media clutter, but analysis reveals underlying tensions that are inherent in the cultural domains referred to. Ads and speeches always involve time, but the categories are double-edged (the past is heroic but quaint, the future combines utopian vision with apocalyptic danger). Space, change, morality, sexuality, emotion, age, and gender have similar ambiguities. We put great emphasis on the expressive functions of specific components: rhythms, color, poetry, typography, photography, metalanguage, visual/linguistic incongruities, pronominal shifts, subliminals, and humor. Political debates are studied as a hybrid between speeches and conversations. Assignments are mainly analytical ("Analyse this ad and that speech!"), but students will also have creative opportunities based on their interests conceiving and sketching magazine ads, or planning and performing in "party conventions" and "presidential debates." Sorry,no business background (marketing, demographics) and no serious art-studio work.

311. Language Use in Human Affairs. (3). (HU).

Language is the main medium through which we communicate with other human beings, and it is also the main medium through which human affairs are conducted, not only in conversational interaction, but in the broadcasting media, in politics, and in the organization of society. In this course we will look at the use of language in a variety of different forms and functions, emphasizing how greatly language varies on different occasions of use, and making first the crucial distinction between the forms and functions of spoken language and those of written language. We will look at the primacy of spoken interaction and the structure of conversational interaction, moving on to more formal uses of spoken language (in law and education, for example) and the uses of written language - in newspapers, advertising, and literature, for example. The course will also cover attitudes to language, dialect variation, standard and non-standard varieties, and variation according to the social group of the speaker and the different spoken styles that speakers use. Included in this, we will pay some attention to variation according to gender, or sex of speaker. Although most of our examples will be from the English language, we will also pay attention to the use of language in other speech communities and cultures. (Milroy)

313. 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, midterm, and take-home final exam. 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. (van Hoek)

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 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. Both halves will be illustrated with examples from various languages and cultures of Europe, Asia and other parts of the world. There will be two exams and a term paper. Readings will be made available in handouts. Knowledge of a foreign language is not necessary. (Solnit)

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. The course will examine a number of language learning/teaching paradigms and focus on the changing forms and functions of methodology, technique and approach as the emphasis of language pedagogy has shifted from teacher directed, drill and pattern practice to learner focused, task based instruction. Students will have an opportunity to reflect upon and analyze their own language learning experiences and begin to critique and understand the instructional needs of varying language learning populations. (Madden)

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. Students will learn the essential techniques for describing and analyzing language through working on real examples taken from a variety of languages in the world. 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, and we will ask how and why they change through time. Some attention will also be given to semantics (how languages convey meanings). Students will be required to submit short problems from time to time, but grades will be based upon two hour exams and a final. There are no prerequisites. Students who have already had a general introduction to linguistics should enroll in an introduction to a specific field within linguistics: 313 (Sound Patterns), 412 (Phonetics), 414 (Semantics and Pragmatics), 415 (Generative Syntax), 417 (Principles of Historical Linguistics), or 442 (Sociolinguistics). (Duanmu)

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, short quizzes, a mid-term, a final exam, and a language project (and an oral presentation for graduate students). No prerequisites, but an introductory linguistics course is strongly recommended. (Cooper)

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

The Principles-&-Parameters (P&P) approach to syntactic theory, most prominently brought forward by Chomsky and his colleagues, aims at representing certain areas of linguistic knowledge as 'mathematical-like' proof systems consisting of formal rules. Some of these rules are innate, thus universal,and form the common grammatical basis from which every language is learned:these are the 'principles'. Other rules allow for cross-linguistic variation via the settings of `parameters' on a language-by-language basis. P&P rules are partitioned into intricately-interacting modules (phrase-structure (X-bar)theory, Case theory, etc.) applying at various levels of representations. This course introduces P&P and explains the workings of these modules and representations, as well as the philosophy, data and arguments justifying their theoretical statuses. Students are trained to use these modules in accounting for various syntactic and semantic patterns within and across languages. Course requirements include weekly assignments, two exams and a final paper. Text: Introduction to Government & Binding Theory, by L. Haegeman, Blackwell 1991. (Degraff)

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. (Dworkin)

419. Discourse Analysis. A course in linguistics, junior standing, or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).

Text has become a recurrent metaphor for the way we make sense of our world. This course explores how textuality has been interpreted in various disciplines and how the analysis of texts can be useful in answering different types of questions. Students can expect to gain a basic knowledge of various ways of analyzing both spoken and written texts. In the first part of the course, we will look at major analytical approaches to the analysis of texts by considering them against the background of problems raised in different fields such as what makes effective court testimony, why some children are seen as failures in school, how mental health professionals make determinations about mental status, and how interpersonal relationships are established and maintained. We will also take up how communication is represented in speech and in writing as well as how the shift from writing to print affects our interpretation of texts. We will devote attention to epistemologies of inscribing texts in a careful examination of approaches to transcription. The second part of the course looks at several types of texts with two goals in mind: 1) Understanding their role in human interaction 2) Integrating and testing the paradigms introduced in the first part of the course. This course assumes no prior knowledge of linguistics. This course is seminar an format. A high level of student participation is expected. The course requirements include regular writing in response to course readings, homework assignments and a final paper. (Keller-Cohen)

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

Language variation is present in all societies. Sometimes speakers choose to vary the language they use and sometimes they vary dialects of the same language. Many social factors such as gender, place of origin, level of education and social class play affect a speaker's choice of language or dialect and how they use it. At the same time the language or dialect which a person speaks is crucial in determining their position in society, both in terms of economic achievement and in terms of personal social relationships which contribute to a sense of identity. The class will discuss such relationships between language and society and how they might be studied objectively. We will focus on issues directly affecting a person's everyday life, such as attitudes towards different languages and dialects and historical and social reasons for these attitudes; questions about why different groups of speakers in the same society use language differently and how this difference is evaluated; use of minority languages whose survival seems to be threatened and governments' language policies. We will look at how different societies deal with these issues to provide students with different perspectives. The required work for the class is four short (5-7 pp) papers. (Milroy)

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

See Psychology 451. (Shatz)

473/Anthro. 473. Ethnopoetics: Cross-Cultural Approaches to Verbal Art. Two courses in anthropology, linguistics or literature, or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).

How do we understand the verbal art of nonwestern peoples without imposing our preconceived folk ideas about form, performance, authorship, and textuality? If poetic form, devices and traditions vary from culture to culture, how can we ever hope to understand them? And if we do manage to understand how another culture patterns its verbal art in performance, how do we translate and represent it without parodying the other culture? This course will consider some recent (and some not-so-recent) efforts by anthropologists, linguists, poets, folklorists, and literary theorists to address these questions at several levels: First, we want to develop a methodology which allows us to discover "unsuspected devices and intentions" which form indigenous poetries and texts - "unsuspected" in that they draw upon aspects of language which our own traditions bypass, and in that they have often been collected and published without cognizance of those devices and intentions.This forces us to develop a view of language which is adequate to interpret "oral literatures" as they shape and are shaped by the cultures of which they are a part. What relevance does such a view of language have for our culture's theories of verbal art, text, and performance? In what ways can it contribute to reshaping anthropology itself? (Bierwert)

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

This course will be a survey of computational models for the morphology, syntax and semantics of natural languages. We will cover some of the historical models as well as current ones, from finite-state morphological processing to context-free and unification-based parsing, and a range of semantic models from frame-based semantics to model-theoretical semantics. We will not assume a prerequisite of EECS 492 (Artificial Intelligence), and programming will be optional. There will, however, be an opportunity to experiment with software for natural language processing. Non-EECS students are particularly encouraged to attend. A project will be required, but this may be either a term paper or a programming project. Text: Allen, Natural Language Understanding, Addison-Wesley. (DeGraff)


lsa logo

University of Michigan | College of LS&A | Student Academic Affairs | LS&A Bulletin Index

This page maintained by LS&A Academic Information and Publications, 1228 Angell Hall

The Regents of the University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 USA +1 734 764-1817

Trademarks of the University of Michigan may not be electronically or otherwise altered or separated from this document or used for any non-University purpose.