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.

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, 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. Next we will consider social attitudes toward language (including "low prestige" dialects and sign language) and how sexism and racism are reflected in language. The course concludes with an examination of some of the world's writing systems and nonverbal communication ("body language"). Course work includes eight weekly homework assignments and one midterm exam. The final is optional. In addition, films will periodically be shown on Thursday evenings (attendance optional).


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