Courses in Linguistics (Division 423)

112(111). Languages of the World. (4). (SS).

This course is an introduction to the variety of languages of the world and the ways these languages have been described and classified. There will be emphasis on non-European languages and on linguists who have studied these languages. There will also be work with sound systems and grammars so students can share the intellectual challenge of language description and classification. Students will be expected to complete problem sets, readings, a midterm, and a final exam. No prerequisites. (Trix)

114. A World of Words. (3). (HU).

The English language is said to have almost a quarter-million words; words for everything from aardvark 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 weird)? 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 (how 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 use 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 term project. (Lawler)

210. Introduction to Linguistics. (3). (SS).

Nothing is more distinctly human than our ability to talk, to use language. Because of that, we expect that the study of language can provide us insight into the things that combine to make "human nature." Since language is a product of what we call "mind," "culture," and "society," it provides us with concrete data through which we can study those very abstract things. This course is an introduction to the methods which linguists have developed in the process of analyzing and describing human languages. Our study will draw on examples from a large number of the languages of the world (including observations of the language habits of U of M students and faculty). We will look at the sounds of language, how they are produced, and how they are patterned into words. We will study the diverse ways in which individual languages approach the processes of word and sentence formation, while we try to decide if there are processes which are universal to all human languages. In spite of this, we will focus our attention on the methods of inquiry: How does a linguist decide what ought to be studied in a given language? How do we go about collecting data? When do we know we have enough? What techniques do we have for making sense of our data? What kinds of conclusions are we led to, what do we do if our methods lead us to different accounts of the same phenomenon? In other words, our focus will be on the processes of analysis and the methods of critical thinking as they apply to the study of language. Daily exercises will afford opportunities to collect data, define problems and propose tentative solutions. Class lecture/discussions and longer bi-weekly assignments will present methods of argumentation and develop problem solving skills. There will be a midterm and a final exam. (The only prerequisites are good will and enthusiasm.) (Toon)

211. Introduction to Language. (3). (SS).

Language is closer to us than the nose on our face, so how do we get perspective on language? In this course we will explore language from various vantage points, leading to analysis of interaction in videotapings of local encounters. To try to clear the air and expose our print-tempered consciousness, we will begin with the perspective of silence, for surely silence is the grounds for all language. Then we will explore language from the periphery - from groups that are often seen as marginal in society, namely animals, children, and foreigners. With a broadened sense of what language entails, we will study language and person, with person seen as a grounds of grammar. There will be readings, and assignments in which students relate what they have studied to their own language, to language they admire, and to language they record. There will also be a midterm and a final. No prerequisites. (Trix)

272/Anthro. 272. Language in Society. Primarily for freshmen and sophomores. (4). (SS).

See Cultural Anthropology 272. (Farris)

311. Language Use in Human Affairs. (3). (HU).

The purpose of this course is to explore past and current directions in both theoretical and practical aspects of second language learning and teaching. The background of knowledge and experience it provides is intended not only for those interested in finding out about the learning and the teaching of English to speakers of other languages (ESOL) but is applicable to foreign language teaching as well. Over the past two decades, linguistic, psycholinguistic, and sociolinguistic perspectives on language and teaching have changed in some very basic ways. Significant changes in concepts about the nature of second language learning and learner processes have had a marked effect on second language pedagogy. From a learner-centered premise that second language instruction is concerned with enabling learners to use the second language effectively and comfortably to reach their own personal, educational, occupational, and social objectives, this course will examine a number of language learning/teaching paradigms and will study the changing forms and functions of methodologies, learning activities, and instructional materials involved. Perspectives on the teacher will focus on teachers as managers of language- learning experiences, not just drill-leaders and presenters of material. Students will have opportunities to reflect upon and analyze their own language learning experiences, past/present, and those of others. (Morley)

313. Language History. (3). (HU).

All languages evolve in the context of a society. This course will focus on the ways in which the study of language history and social history can complement each other. The first part of the course will examine how the findings of linguistic reconstruction can aid the historian in describing the features and developments of earlier societies. The specific examples to be used are proto-Indoeuropean and early Roman culture and society. The second half of the course will examine how major events in social and political history affected the development of the languages which were the affected culture's vehicles of expression. Illustrations to be used include the spread of Christianity, the fall of the Roman Empire, the Norman conquest of England, the cultural impact of the Renaissance, the invention of printing, the Protestant Reformation, and the French Revolution. There will be two exams and a term paper. Readings will be made available in a course pack. Knowledge of a foreign language is not necessary. (Dworkin)

316. Discourse and Discipline. (3). (HU).

The aims of this course are: (1) to provide a structured opportunity for participants to reflect upon similarities and differences among the disciplinary and departmental cultures they have experienced; (2) to relate those experiences to the work of scholars who have examined such cultures from differing perspectives; (3) to investigate, via various techniques of discourse analysis, primary data research and citational practices, etc.; and (4) to discuss findings in a range of written and spoken formats. Thus the course hopes to demonstrate the value of linguistics as an interdisciplinary enquiry and of future discourse communities. There are no prerequisites, and those from other concentrations are especially welcome. (Swales)

411. Introduction to Linguistics. Not open to students with credit for Ling. 211. (3). (SS).

An introduction to the objectives and methods of linguistics. It will survey phonetics and phonology (the nature and organization of the sounds of language), morphology and syntax (the construction and organization of words and sentences), semantics and pragmatics (how language conveys meanings and how meanings interact with situations). The course considers the way languages vary, from one time to another, one social situation to another, and one language family to another. Students can expect to develop a preliminary understanding of the organization of language and the methods by which linguists learn about language. (Myhill)

413. Phonology. (3). (Excl).

This is a course in phonological analysis. The structure of sound systems will be investigated primarily through problem solving. As we examine phonological data from a wide range of languages, we will focus on the types of evidence that are relevant to the solution of these data. In doing so, we will consider the relation between phonological description and explanation in contemporary phonological theory. Class sessions will consist of lectures and discussions of problem sets. The final grade will be determined by a midterm exam, final exam, and homework assignments. There are no prerequisites, but Linguistics 412 is strongly recommended. (Zec)

415. Generative Syntax. (3). (SS).

This course will introduce students to the methods of syntactic analysis and argumentation. In the first part of the course, we will explore syntactic regularities in a wide range of data taken from English, as well as a number of other languages, with the goal of arriving at syntactic generalizations. Then we will see how syntactic generalizations are expressed in terms of a formal syntactic framework; that is, how analyses are constructed by associating the syntactic phenomena we observe with the various levels of representation within syntactic frameworks, such as the phrase structure, the lexicon, etc. Finally, we will focus on constructing valid arguments for a proposed analysis. In the second part of the course, we will look at some of the current syntactic frameworks, both transformational and non-transformational, and see how they differ both in the general organization and in the treatment of specific syntactic phenomena. The requirements include weekly assignments, and two squibs (up to 10 pages) on any of the topics covered by the course. (Zec)

417/Anthro. 476/German 417. Principles and Methods of Historical Linguistics. Ling. 411 or equivalent. (3). (HU).

This course explores the assumptions underlying the establishment of historical relationships between languages. Techniques of internal and comparative reconstruction of related languages and types of linguistic change will be considered. (Wiegand)

418. Functionalism and Typology. (3). (HU).

This course provides an introduction to the cross-linguistic study of grammatical systems and their explanation. We will begin by describing the role of cross-linguistic comparison in linguistic theory, and then examine in detail the types of similarities and patterns of variation among languages that have been discovered. We will then examine the types of explanations, functional and historical, that have been proposed for the typological patterns. Coursework will involve short homework assignments and one or two in-class exams. There is no official prerequisite for this course, but prior coursework in syntax or semantics (especially Linguistics 401) would be useful. (Myhill)

419. Discourse Analysis. Linguistics 401. (3). (HU).

This course will study turn-taking and conversation structure, referent status (topic and focus), information status (given/new, foregrounding), cohesion and coherence in texts, and the role of belief systems (knowledge, and social status) in text construction. Linguistics 401 is a prerequisite. (Ard)

492. Topics in Linguistics. (3). (Excl). May be elected for credit twice.

Section 001 WRITING AND CULTURE. We are accustomed to thinking of language and thought as entwined: perhaps we are less accustomed to thinking of language and culture as entwined. There is, however, a great deal of work in linguistics and anthropology, from the early work of Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf, to the recent work of Shirley Brice Heath, to show how closely culture and language are connected. Most of this work has been with oral language: in this course, in contrast, we shall look at written language to see how cultural traditions regarding the act and art of writing shape us just as we shape our writing. As we compose, we are composed. For most writers, learning to write for college in this country involves becoming "bicultural" whether English is the first, second, or other language. We shall examine the evidence for and consider the implications of this claim. We shall look at data from studies of Native American, Black and other U.S. minority college student groups. We shall also consider studies of users of English as a second language as they engage in literary events (writing essay examinations, term papers, discussing their written work with their instructors, etc.). These latter groups are particularly interesting because they provide evidence for the existence of cross-cultural rhetoric and cross-cultural pragmatic adaptations in academic writing in English. (Hamp-Lyons)


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