Fall Course Guide

Courses in Linguistics (Division 423)

Fall Term, 1998 (September 8-December 21, 1998)

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102. First Year Seminar (Humanities). (3). (HU).
Section 001 Languages of Europe.
This seminar will introduce participants to the major national languages of Europe, including most of those taught here at the University of Michigan. (We will also look at some regional languages, such as Basque and Gaelic.) Through oral presentations, discussion, and readings about particular languages students will come to know something about human language in general: In what ways do languages differ and in what ways are they the same? How do languages develop through time? What is linguistic identity and how does it inform history, politics, and the structure of society? Through a series of written assignments students will also gain an understanding of the fundamental techniques of linguistic analysis. (Hook)

Section 002 Humor and Seriousness. This seminar will analyze humor and joking, and contrast them with "serious" speech. In the first few weeks, students will develop a theory of joking and seriousness based on direct observation and intuition, and in the rest of the course these ideas will be applied to various contexts. Three focal applications will be to stand-up comedy, Shakespeare's humor, departmental colloquia and brown-bag talks on campus. Individual students may do further projects on humor and seriousness in advertising, politics, film, written parody, or other genres. Students must be 18 by the end of September to attend club shows. Students must also have flexible afternoon schedules to allow attendance at colloquia, and be available Friday evenings for periodic film screenings and comedy performances. (Heath)

Section 003 Deciphering Ancient Languages. The written remains of ancient cultures if we can read them can tell us a great deal about how the human world got the way it is. This course examines how linguistics can help in deciphering ancient languages. We will study a number of ancient scripts, including some already deciphered (Mesopotamian cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Linear B script of Mycenean Greece), some now being deciphered (Mayan hieroglyphs), and some which still await decipherment (e.g., Linear A of Crete, the Mohenjo-Daro script of ancient India). Assignments will include background readings, exercises with actual texts, short papers and reports to the class, a midterm, and a final exam. (Baxter)
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103. First Year Seminar (Social Science). (3). (SS).
Section 001 Language and Gender.
Over the past two decades, scholars have become aware of the role gender plays in how we interact with language. This course aims to understand how the social lives of women and men interact with the ways languages are structured and learned, how people talk to each other in face-to-face interaction, and what and how we read and write. We'll consider a wide range of materials including audio and video recordings, diaries, romance novels, detective stories, and film as well as scholarly material; we'll examine different methodologies including ethnography and experiments. (Keller-Cohen)
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114. A World of Words. (3). (HU).
The English language is said to have almost a million words; words for everything from aardvarks to zygotes. There are a lot of questions asked 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 to be studied include: (1) morphology and phonetics (the internal structure of words); (2) etymology (word history); (3) Indo-European linguistics (how English is related to other languages); (4) lexical semantics (what words mean); (5) social and cultural implications of our vocabulary and its use. In the process of studying them we can expect: (a) some vocabulary development, with particular attention to Greek and Latin roots in common use in English; (b) an increased sensitivity to words of all sorts and to their uses and probable meanings; (c) an improved understanding of how words are used to name and describe various concepts and things and how they can be misused as well; (d) a novel and interesting viewpoint on the position of our language and culture in world history and geography a result not of official political or institutional events, but of its actual ongoing evolution. Assignments include readings, group and individual homework assignments, participation both in class and in a computer conference, and (take-home) midterm and final exams. Texts: any unabridged English dictionary; any paperback Latin dictionary; David Crystal, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language; Lewis Thomas, Etc, Etc: Notes of a Word Watcher; plus course packs. (Lawler)
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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(zes), midterm and final exams; no prerequisite except an interest in language and thinking. (Toon)
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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; we will start with a discussion of the ways language differs from animal communication, and then review major aspects of language structure (sounds, words, sentences, meaning). We will then cover child language acquisition, and the analysis of American Sign Language as a real human language. We will also apply what we do to discussions of current dialects of English and we will consider social attitudes toward language. What is "Standard English" and is it better than "dialects" of English? Course work includes five homework assignments, one midterm exam, and a final exam. (Tortora and Benki)
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212. Formal Methods in the Study of Language. (4). (MSA).
This course is an introduction to some basic mathematical concepts and techniques used in the representation of linguistic meaning. Set theory, first-order logic, and (elementary) model theory. The main focus of this course will be learning how to construct rudimentary models of natural language with these mathematical tools. We will investigate the extent to which these models succeed in approximating natural language, and analyze some of their better known failures (e.g. why do people often believe that `Every cat sneezed' and `No cat sneezed' are contraries of each other? Why can't our models account for this?). We will also attempt to systematize our understanding of these problems, and discuss possible ways of overcoming (some of) them. There will be weekly exercises, a midterm, and a final exam. No specific prerequisites. (Cresti)
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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. (Duanmu)
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314. Text, Context, and Meaning. Ling. 210 or 211. (3). (Excl).
This course is an introduction to theories of linguistic meaning. The central question to be explored is therefore: how do we, as humans, know the meanings of words, sentences, and conversations? How do we know, for instance, the meaning of the sentence "The earth is flat", even if we have never experienced (and will probably never experience) such a state of affairs? In trying to find answers to these questions, we will investigate theories of word meaning and of 'composition'; i.e., how to put word meanings together to produce the meaning of larger components of grammar, up to defining the truth conditions of whole sentences (semantics proper). We will then look at what factors contribute to the truth (or falsity) of a sentence uttered in a given context, and what makes a sentence appropriate to any such context or conversation (pragmatics, broadly defined). There will be weekly exercises, a midterm, and a final. A basic knowledge of syntax is strongly recommended. (Cresti)
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315. Introduction to Sentence Analysis. Ling. 210 or 211. (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)
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342. Perspectives on Bilingualism. Ling. 272, or Ling. 210, or Ling. 211. (3). (Excl).
Bilingualism has been common throughout history, but in the last half century or so a number of developments such as decolonization, an increase in demand for popular education, massive population shifts through migration, and the development of global communication have served to accentuate our sense of living in a visibly and audibly multilingual modern world. A number of interesting issues can be dealt with in a course on bilingualism, all of great current relevance. Examples are acquisition of language(s) by children in bilingual families; the bilingual brain; aspects of bilingual knowledge/competence; language maintenance and language shift in migrant communities; bilingual education; multilingualism and multiculturalism in the United States; minority languages; the politics of bilingualism; attitudes to bilingualism. Students will be encouraged to work where relevant with their own languages and endeavor systematically to frame their own experience of bilingualism. (Satterfield)
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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)
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385. Experiential Practice. Permission of instructor. (1-6). (Excl). Offered mandatory credit/no credit. (EXPERIENTIAL). May be repeated for a total of six credit.
Students will participate in (and, if necessary, be trained for) a service project, through the Program in Linguistics and/or the English Language Institute. Though projects will vary from term to term, they may usually be expected to involve either one-on-one tutoring (in literacy, English as a Second Language, or linguistics, for instance) or formal teaching outside the University, or some mix of these. The course is designed for linguistics concentrators, and good academic preparation in core linguistic concepts is assumed. Each project will have a faculty supervisor, whom students should contact for specific information, and to determine eligibility and any special requirements. (Swales)
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409/Anthro. 472. Language and Culture. (3). (HU).
See Anthropology 472. (Lemon)
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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. (Milroy)
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411. Introduction to Linguistics. Not open to students with credit for Ling. 211. (3). (SS).
This course is designed as an introduction to the field of linguistics for graduate students who have an interest in the nature of language. Upper-class undergraduates are also welcome. We will cover a wide range of topics related to language, with somewhat more focus on the core areas: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. In addition, students will learn the essential techniques for describing and analyzing linguistic data through working on examples taken from various languages of the world. There will be weekly exercises, a midterm, a final, and a small project. 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), 512 (Phonetics), 513 (Phonology), 514 (Semantics and Pragmatics), 515 (Generative Syntax), 517 (Principles of Historical Linguistics), or 542 (Sociolinguistics). (Duanmu)
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473/Anthro. 473. Ethnopoetics: Cross-Cultural Approaches to Verbal Art. Two courses in anthropology, linguistics, or literature. (3). (Excl).
See Cultural Anthropology 473. (Bierwert)
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492. Topics in Linguistics. (3). (Excl). May be elected for credit twice.
Section 001- Language Contact, Pidgins, and Creoles.
This is a graduate-level course focusing on the structural effects of code-switching, borrowing, and more systemic grammatical interactions among two or more languages in contact. Topics include the development of mixing routines, hybridization, language death, areal distributions, and multilingual politics. Techniques for reconstructing contact phenomena from earlier periods will be developed. There will be a substantial section on pidgins and creoles, including a very brief "mini-course" on an English-based creole. Other contexts considered are contact among small foraging tribes (pre-contact Australia), colonial and postcolonial situations (West Africa), immigrant families, and overridden indigenous groups (Amerindians). Aimed at students from Linguistics, Anthropology, and the language and literature departments. Undergraduates admitted only by instructor's permission. (Heath)

Section 002 Language and Learnability Seminar. What is learnability theory? Learnability theory is one of the central topics of cognitive science and linguistics. Ideally, it should be researched in conjunction with linguistic theory and language acquisition theory. By attempting to integrate these three components, we can actually bring about a precision, better yet a new significance and a new validation for each individual field, and also more adequately inform the general research constituting a complete theory of language learning. To resolve the questions of language learning, we have to carefully examine learnability, since it is there that we're able to keep the other two domains in check. Every linguistic theory or theory of language acquisition needs it as an ultimate explanatory tool. In turn, learnability gets a lot from the other disciplines' unique characteristics. The beginnings of learnability theory with respect to language can be traced back to the seminal work of Gold (1967), whose goal was to explain the "learning problem": how languages are plausibly learnable in the abstract (later Chomsky (1986) coined the term learnability for this issue that he saw as the `ultimate problem of linguistic theory'). (Satterfield)

Section 003 Italian Dialects Seminar. In the past 17 years, research on the syntax of Italian has been brought to bear on the development of syntactic theory (consider, for example, Burzio's work on unaccusativity or Kayne's work on clitic movement). More recently, the work of Kayne, Benincá, Rizzi, Roberts, Cinque, Zanuttini (among many others) on the syntax of the Italian dialects has refined our understanding of Italian syntax, and consequently of syntactic theory. In this course, we will read seminal works by these authors (topics will include unaccusativity, clitic movement, auxiliary selection, negation, and clausal structure). Thus, through this course, the student will learn about the syntactic structure of a large family of related languages and at the same time gain an understanding of the large role these languages has had in the development of syntactic theory. Prerequisites: at least one syntax course. Requirements: class participation (presenting readings), and one seminar paper. (Tortora)

Section 004 Issues in Cognitive Grammar Seminar. This seminar will explore some of the real-life ramifications of cognitive linguistics as it relates to the field of mental health. We will look at everyday applications of cognitive linguistic concepts to common mental health issues such as codependence, and then focus on the intersection of cognitive linguistics and psychotherapy. We will examine areas such as cognitive therapy and how its approach relates to core cognitive linguistic concepts such as metaphor, idealized cognitive models, and the semantic theory of Cognitive Grammar. We will look at the notion of embodiment as manifested in psychotherapy and in cognitive linguistics. Additional topics will include mental spaces theory and perspective-taking, linguistic aspects of therapeutic dialogue, and the role of the container metaphor in boundary negotiation. (van Hoek)
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512(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. (Benki)
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515(415). Generative Syntax. Ling. 315. (3). (Excl).
In the Generative framework, syntactic structure is generated by a formal rule system and by applying constraints to its output. Some of these rules and constraints are hypothesized to be innate - "unlearned" (perhaps a species' specific system that, in part, makes human language acquisition possible). Other aspects of our linguistic knowledge appears "learned". This class introduces this, so-called "Principles and Parameters" approach to the analysis of syntactic phenomena, focusing on how the various postulated ("simple") rules and constraints interact to generate ("complex") structures, characteristic of natural language sentences (such as the one you are now reading, and understanding). Course requirements may include weekly assignments, a midterm and a final. Text: Introduction to Government & Binding Theory, by L. Haegeman, Blackwell 2nd Edition. (Epstein)
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519(419). Discourse Analysis. 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)
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542(442)/Anthro. 572. Introduction to Sociolinguistics. Ling. 414 or graduate standing. (3). (Excl).
Students will be introduced to methods of studying the relationships between language variation and social structure and to the major findings of sociolinguists who have examined these relationships. The course will focus largely (but not exclusively) on the quantitative methods developed by Labov, which are designed to reveal the way language change is rooted in synchronic variation. Social models of language change will be considered. The class will study reports of research which focus variously on everyday social interaction, on larger scale patterns of social dialect variation, and on patterns of code choice in bidialectal and bilingual communities. Relationships between language and social class, language and gender, and language and ethnicity will be discussed. Other topics to be covered are language and style and some of the larger-scale social, educational, and political issues associated with the process of language standardization. All students will carry out a small-scale piece of original sociolinguistic research. (Milroy)
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