Courses in Linguistics (Division 423)

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 (what 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. (Lawler)

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 insight into "human nature." This course is an analytic introduction to the methods linguists use for describing languages (although general training in analytic thought is our ultimate goal). Drawing on examples from a large number of the world's languages, we will look at the sounds of language, how they are produced, and how they pattern into words; we will study the diverse ways in which individual languages approach processes of word and sentence formation, while we ask whether there are processes universal to all languages. By focusing simultaneously on language data and on the techniques used by linguists to make sense of these data, we will see that our understanding of the object of inquiry (language) is influenced by our methods of inquiry. Requirements include problem-solving assignments, quiz(zes), midterm and final exams; no prerequisite except an interest in language and thinking. (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. We will then review major aspects of language structure (sounds, words, sentences) and apply them 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 with an examination of American Sign Language and its role in Deaf culture. Course work includes eight short homework assignments, one midterm, and a final exam. (Milroy & Cooper)

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. (Cooper)

314. Text, Context, and Meaning. Sophomore standing. (3). (Excl).

Discourse, written or spoken, is the strategic deployment of meanings, carried out in the context of genres with their own conventions and rules (an action novel, a sermon, a lover's quarrel). All discourse implies or presupposes as much as it states, so we need a theory of "pragmatics" to understand how it is processed. Moreover, the "meaning" even of direct statements turns out to be elusive, to the consternation of logicians; the semantics of ordinary language is highly "metaphorical." The course will focus on meaning systems and discourse structure, with emphasis on conversation and other genres of spoken discourse. When transcribed and analysed, the pleasant dinner conversation we have just enjoyed can be seen as a set of strategic "moves" in which roles and dominance relations are acted out. Whether our immediate experiential evaluation or our analytic dissection is more "truthful" is an open question. We will conclude by analyzing transcripts of a set of psychotherapeutic interviews; both the therapist and the patient will be dissected. At the end of the term students will be organized into a small number of interest groups and will do individual projects within this context; sample topics include joking, telephone conversation, sermons, cross-cultural discourse, and metaphor. (Heath)

318. Types of Languages. One course in linguistics. (3). (Excl).

Human languages, especially those of unfamiliar cultures, appear to be very different on the surface. But closer examination reveals that languages differ in systematic ways, so that they can be divided into a relatively small number of basic types. In this course, you will discover and learn about some of these basic patterns. We will then explore the reasons why these patterns exist, seeking explanations in the communicative function of language, and the evolution of languages. The course will introduce students to basic grammatical structure and function by (1) having them investigate unfamiliar languages through published descriptive grammars and (2) relating this direct experience to the principal findings of contemporary linguistic research. Coursework will consist of a midterm, a final or a coursepaper, and a series of regular assignments requiring students to consult a grammar (or grammars) to gather data on specific linguistic features. Through these assignments students can expect to develop some familiarity with a number of non-Western languages during the course. (Hook)

351. Second Language Acquisition. (3). (SS).

This introductory course in second language acquisition will focus on current theories of second language acquisition and how they relate to second language development and teaching. The course will cover some of the major historical highlights of SLA research and provide students with experience in data analysis and interpretation. While much of the literature focuses on the acquisition of English, examples and analysis of other language data will be discussed. The course is intended for all students interested in understanding and evaluating proposed models of second language acquisition. Undergraduates should register for Linguistics 351 and graduates for 551. Both courses will meet together with additional sessions and work for 551 credit. (Madden)

408/English 408. Varieties of English. (3). (Excl).

No language is a uniform entity all languages vary in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. In this course we ask why languages vary so much within themselves and try to suggest some answers. First we look at the extent of variation, focusing on English. We consider regional variation and change over time, moving on to social and situational variation. We consider the suggestion that variation is functional for human beings and necessary for them to operate successfully in social settings. Despite this, people normally express criticism of variation in language and seem to value uniformity above diversity. We consider these attitudes and attempt to explain them by considering the effects of standardization on languages, such as English, German and the Scandinavian languages. We consider how far what we call a 'language' is a socio-political entity. (Milroy)

410/Anthro. 474. Language and Discrimination: Language as Social Statement. (3). (SS).

In this course we examine the interplay between language and ideological processes which function below the level of consciousness. We are concerned with the suppression of linguistic variation; that is, with the development of a standard language ideology, which is understood to be a bias toward an abstracted, idealized, (but ultimately unattainable) homogenous spoken language, modeled on variants favored by the white, middle American mainstream. This ideology is one of many social practices on which people depend without close analysis of underlying assumptions. In this class, we will look into those assumptions linguistic and social. We will examine the way in which these behaviors are institutionalized by the media, the entertainment industry, school systems, business community and the judicial system, all of which promote standard language ideology and underwrite assimilatory and often discriminatory - practices, the goal of which is to suppress perfectly functional language variation intimately linked to homeland, race, and ethnicity. We will look at issues of language choice and accent as legal issues in the courts. This course should be of interest to those concerned with non-mainstream language varieties as a cultural resource and asset, historical heritage and potential complication in supra-cultural communication. An introductory linguistics course would be helpful but is not essential. Cost:2 WL:4 (Lippi-Green)

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). (Toon)

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 and drills in producing and transcribing particular classes of speech sounds. Weekly labs will include computer analysis of speech. Course grades will be based on transcriptions, lab assignments, midterm and final exams (and a language project for graduate students). No prerequisites, but an introductory linguistics course is strongly recommended. (Beddor)

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 several major language families, including Indo-European. There will be frequent discussions in class, as well as short written assignments. (Milroy)

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. The course examines a variety of topics including why the concept of text is a useful and necessary way to think about human communication; how experience is encoded differently in speaking versus writing; different methods of analyzing texts; and how the analysis of texts enables us to understand such social problems as communication in families, doctor-patient interaction, and courtroom testimony. This course is seminar in 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. Some background knowledge of linguistic concepts is important. (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 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 three short (5-7 pp.) papers for undergraduates. Graduate students will be required to write two papers of 5-7 pp. and one of 18-20 pp. The second paper will be a report of a limited data-collection and analysis project. (Milroy)

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

See Psychology 451. (Tardif)

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

See Linguistics 473. (Bierwert)

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

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, Second Edition 1995, Addison-Wesley. (DeGraff)


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