Courses in Linguistics (Division 423)

102. First Year Seminar (Humanities). (3). (HU).

Section 001 Languages of Asia. Linguistics 102 invites freshmen and sophomores to explore the languages of Asia from a variety of approaches. In the course we will consider the history of Asian languages, how they are alike and how they differ, the means devised for writing them, the role they play in the cultural life of their speakers, and the ways in which they have contributed to the creation and maintenance of Asian nation-states, religions, and cultures. We will consider how they have been affected by contact with colonial and post-colonial languages from the West and what place they may have in the future. Featured languages include Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Indonesian, Sanskrit, Hindi-Urdu, Tamil, and Tibetan. Each participant will have joint responsibility with the instructor for a language (or country or topic) to be presented during two or three sessions. There will be an exam and a number of short assignments. This course may be of particular interest to those freshmen and sophomores trying to decide on a two-year sequence in a foreign language. (Hook)

Section 002 Words and Their Uses: Studying Vocabulary in Time, Space, and Social Life. The general focus of this course is on the origin and history of words in languages, with special reference to the vocabulary of English. We look at the sources of our vocabulary in early forms of English and in other languages (such as French and Latin) and at the differences between American and British usage. We also consider the relation of words in language to what they stand for in the real world (semantics), the range of meanings that a single word may have, and the changes of meaning that lead up to present day usage. We will then move on to study various aspects of the use of words by speakers and 'jargon,' metaphor, poetic usage, and the use of language by politicians and journalists. Amongst other things we will consider the effects of feminism and 'political correctness' on current usage. Later in the course we will consider the activities of language 'mavens' and the effect of notions of correctness on the use of words. [Students will be expected to possess a good etymological dictionary and should preferably have access to a thesaurus, such as a recent edition of Roget's Thesaurus. ] (J. Milroy)

119. Conversation. (3). (SS).

At the core of contact between humans is face-to-face interaction. In recent years there has been substantial scholarly interest in conversation from scholars in anthropology, communication, education, linguistics, psychology, and sociology. This grows out of the recognition that conversation is not merely a conduit for information but the site for expression of institutional identities, gender, and power. This course introduces students to principles for the study of conversation. Course members will be actively engaged in the analysis of existing data as well as gathering and studying data they collect. Course assignments will include the analysis of small problem sets based on audio and video taped interaction, designing and gathering a sample of conversation, and a small paper growing out of the data collection. (Keller-Cohen)

210. Introduction to Linguistic Analysis. (4). (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(es), midterm and final exams; no prerequisite except an interest in language and thinking. (Satterfield)

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. (van Hoek)

305/Comm. 305/Poli. Sci. 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 reference, 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, nature, and gender have similar ambiguities. This course puts 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 ("Analyze 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 quantitative business analysis (marketing, demographics) and no serious art-studio work. (Heath)

313. Sound Patterns. Ling. 210 or 211. (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)

314. Text, Context, and Meaning. Ling. 210 or 211. (3). (Excl).

What speakers say and what they mean often do not amount to the same thing. For example, if I say, "Can you pass the salt?" I do not expect the reply, "Yes, I can." Yet, such a response would be unremarkable to a query later in the same conversation such as "Can you swim half a mile?" What is involved in explaining these different expectations is a particular aspect of speaker meaning, whereby utterances are interpreted with attention to their context of use and a good deal of inferencing about the speaker's intention which supplements hearers' knowledge of the literal meanings of words and sentences. This course will deal with key topics organized around this major distinction between speaker meaning (pragmatics) and linguistic meaning (semantics). In considering linguistic meaning, we shall comment on sense properties of words and the provision languages make for relating expressions to items in the non-linguistic world. Speaker meaning will deal with the principles which underlie the inferencing work carried out by hearers and by readers of written texts. We shall also look at the manner in which meanings gradually unfold as interlocutors jointly construct ongoing interactions. The second part of the course will be organized around group work, where students will work together on the key topics and on illustrative data. Course requirements will include a final project arising from this group work, a midterm examination, and a short paper. Course texts: Hurford, J. and Heasley, B., Semantics: a coursebook. (1982 Cambridge). Thomas, J., Meaning in Interaction: An Introduction to Pragmatics. (1995 New York: Longman). (L. Milroy)

350. Perspectives on Second Language Learning and Second Language Instruction. Ling. 210 or 211. (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. (Morley)

395. Individual Research. Permission of instructor. (1-4). (Excl). (INDEPENDENT). May be repeated for a total of 6 credits.

Adequately prepared students can pursue individual research with a member of the faculty. Individual students should consult with faculty about ongoing projects in which they can participate. Reading and reports appropriate to the individual topic are required. A paper situating the research in the literature and describing the project and the student's role in it will normally be required.

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

See Anthropology 472. (Lemon)

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) homogeneous 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.

412. Phonetics. Ling. 313. (4). (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).

In the Generative (or Chomskyan) framework of syntax, sentence structure is viewed as being generated by a formal mathematical system of rules and constraints which are present in the mind of the speaker. Some of these rules and constraints are innate and universal across languages; others are learned or "parameterized." In this class, we introduce this "Principles and Parameters" approach to syntax, focusing on how the various modules of these rule systems interact to generate the sentence structures and patterns of language. Course requirements may include weekly assignments, a midterm and a take-home final. Undergraduates should have taken Linguistics 315 as a prerequisite. There is no prerequisite for graduate students. Text: Introduction to Government & Binding Theory, by L. Haegeman, Blackwell 2nd Edition.

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

See Psychology 451. (Gelman)


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.