Courses in Linguistics (Division 423)

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

See Spring Term description.

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 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. 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 The course concludes with an examination of the importance of nonverbal communication (body language) in every day interactions and with an examination of how language is subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) manipulated in advertisements.


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