Courses in Linguistics (Division 423)

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

Section 001 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 that 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. (Hook)

Section 002 This course examines the variety of the world's languages and the efforts to classify them by family and by language type. In studying some of the different possibilities of sound and grammar systems, we will be looking for ways in which languages are the same, as well as how they differ. Course work will include problem sets, some of which will give students a chance to work with languages of their choice. (Start)

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

A Collegiate Fellows course. See page 3 of this COURSE GUIDE for a complete list of Collegiate Fellows courses.

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). (Lawler)

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 show how variations on standard English such as English creole, Black English, and sign language can be described. Finally, we show how everyday language already has the properties (rhythmic alterations, sound symbolism, perspective shifts, parallelism, and metaphor) that can be developed into poetic language and political oratory. The last few sessions include close analysis of political speeches and Presidential debates. [Cost:1] (Heath and Cooper)

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

See Cultural Anthropology 272. (Mannheim)

310/Anthro. 372. Language, Cognition and Evolution. (3). (SS).

See Cultural Anthropology 372. (Burling)

315. Introduction to Sentence Analysis. (3). (Excl).

"Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity." James Joyce. "Ako wehxakona huhyaye romryen haxa, amryekhen kono rma; koseryehyakona, romryena." (In my boyhood, before I was one of the hunters, I used to live there, downriver; and I used to be afraid.) These sentences, the product of storytellers using English and the Brazilian language Hixkaryana, demonstate both the rich differences and common features of human language. In English, sentences have a structure and a particular word order, generally subject followed by verb followed by direct object. Hixkaryana structure also has a predictable and particular word order, though the word order in Hixkaryana is direct object followed by verb followed by subject, the mirror image of English. Hixkaryana and English initially look like opposites, but they share many other features. For example, in English we say "John likes himself" but we don't often say "John convinced Sally to marry himself"; Hixkaryana works the same way. So do German, Japanese, Russian, and Navajo. Are such differences and similarities between English and Hixkaryana (or Navajo) accidental, or are there ways in which all languages are similar? 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 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. [Cost:1] [WL:4] (Alexander)

317(313). Language and 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. [Cost:1] [WL:3,4] (Dworkin)

350. Perspectives on Second Language Learning and Second Language Instruction. (3). (Excl).

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 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 learner will focus on learners as active creators in their learning process, not as passive recipients. 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. The course can be elected as certification for the Junior/Senior Writing Requirement. Note: Graduate students may elect this course as Linguistics 450. (Morley)

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

This course is an introduction to the objectives and methods of modern linguistics. We will be especially concerned with phonetics and phonology (the nature and organization of the sounds of language) and with morphology and syntax (the formation of words and the organization of words into larger phrases and sentences). We will consider how all these aspects of language vary from one dialect or language to another, from one social group to another, and from one situation to another, and we will ask how and why they change through time. Some attention will also be given to semantics and pragmatics (how languages convey meanings, and how meanings interact with situations). Students will be required to submit short problems from time to time, but grades will be based upon two hour exams and a final. [Cost:1] [WL:1] (Burling)

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 based on weekly homework and assignments. There are no prerequisites (Linguistics 412 is recommended). [Cost:1] [WL:4] (Sietsema)

415. Generative Syntax. (3). (Excl).

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. [Cost:1] [WL:4] (Alexander)

416. Field Methods in Linguistics. One course in phonetics or phonology and a course in syntax, or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).

Where does linguistic data come from? If not from a native speaker introspecting about his/her own language, then it's the product of field work. This course aims to give the student hands-on experience in field linguistics, the source of data crucial to all facets of linguistics. With the participation of a native speaker of a language unknown to either students or instructor, we will start from scratch and find out as much about the language as we can. Students will learn techniques and strategies of elicitation, organization and analysis of data as well as formation and testing of hypotheses based on the data. In discovering (or producing) linguistic facts, many of which will be new (to linguistics as well as to us), it is hoped that the student will gain some understanding of the process that produces this 'raw material' of linguistic science. Is it really raw material, to be later processed by theory, or does the chicken precede the egg? The language will probably be Hmong, a tonal language of China/Southeast Asia. Requirements: one short interim report on the data gathered at about the midpoint of the term; one term paper analyzing in depth some aspect of the language. Prerequisites: Linguistics 413 and 415 or equivalent (one term each phonology and syntax); recommended: Linguistics 412 or equivalent (phonetics), and further work in syntax, phonology, semantics. (Solnit)

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

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. [Cost:2] [WL:4] (Croft)

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

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 prerequisite. (Myhill)

442/Anthro. 478. Introduction to Sociolinguistics. Ling. 411 or equivalent. (3). (Excl).

In this course we will be examining language in relation to the community and culture of the people using it. As a departure point, we will discuss the theoretical framework of sociolinguistics as it contrasts and complements earlier linguistic theory, particularly classical dialectology and structuralism; and concurrent theory, such as generative grammar and social dialectology. We will consider concepts such as accent, dialect and standard; prescription of language use, standardization and authority in language and attitude; the role and dynamics of pidgins and creoles; and the social marking of speech for gender, age and other social group language norms, as well as the rejection or acceptance of such norms, both in urban and rural settings. Finally, we will be considering field methodology and quantitative methods. We establish our social identity each time we engage in conversation: this course is designed to make its students aware of this process. Prerequisite: Linguistics 411, equivalent, or permission of instructor. (Myhill)

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

Section 001 LEXICAL SEMANTICS. This course will analyze lexical systems such as kinship, flora-fauna, spatial orientation, emotions, and perception, comparing English with non-European languages (e.g., Australian Aboriginal). The semantic "logic" of each lexical system will be studied, with special emphasis on tell-tale grammatical idiosyncrasies; for example, the section on color will discuss patterns of modification (-ish), compounding (orange-red versus green-red), and emphatics (snow white). Various concepts of prototypes, extensions, and tropes ("metaphor," "metonym") will be critically considered in connection with semantic skewing (e.g., secondary uses of brother or father). Some lexical systems will be studied in connection with affiliated vocabulary (for examples, animal categories in connection with terms for meats, body parts, forms of locomotion, and yes - forms of excrement). Students should have some previous background in some field dealing with meaning (linguistics, anthropology, philosophy of language, cognitive psychology, or literary theory), but there are no specific prerequisites. Two 5-10 pagers, exam. [Cost:1] [WL:1] (Heath)

Section 002 SPOKEN AND WRITTEN LANGUAGE. This seminar will be devoted to investigating the differences between spoken and written language. We will not only survey the relevant literature on the subject but also collect and analyze samples of spoken and written language, asking both how they differ and how the differences derive from the varying objectives and circumstances of speakers and writers. Depending upon the interests of the class members, we may also consider the implications that writing and printing have for human society and culture. Students will be expected to write a substantial term paper based upon their own investigation of language samples, and to share their findings with the class, both by oral presentations and by distribution of their written papers. Grades will be based upon the students' papers. There will be no examinations. Prerequisite: Linguistics 411 or an equivalent introduction to linguistics. (Burling)

Section 003 DIACHRONIC SYNTAX. In the study of language change, far more attention has been paid in the past to changes in phonology, morphology, and semantics than to changes in syntax. Recent trends in the field of linguistics as a whole, however, have made it possible to begin remedying this situation. These include: (1) a growing body of observed syntactic changes from a typologically and genetically diverse group of languages; (2) an increased richness of descriptive devices and explanatory frameworks in synchronic syntactic theory (including contributions from generative theories, functional syntax, and typological studies); and (3) a growing understanding of the motivations and mechanisms of the change process (including the nature of social and stylistic variation). All these are now making it possible to focus on what a theory of syntactic change should be like what the range of data to be covered is, what mechanisms need to be postulated, and what we should consider to be a satisfactory explanation of a syntactic change. In this class we will focus on analyzing types of changes exhibited in the data, and on evaluating different approaches to the treatment of change in this area of the grammar. The class format will be lecture/discussion; grades will be based on short homework assignments, a midterm, and a final. Prerequisites: an introductory linguistics course, or permission of instructor. [Cost:1] [WL:4] (Wiegand)

Section 004 GENETIC RELATEDNESS OF LANGUAGES. (Shevoroshkin)

Section 005 LINGUISTICS AND READING AND WRITING PROCESSES. This course will examine the effects of a "real world" context including social and pragmatic effects, text and genre effects, and cognitive processing effects on the structure and linguistic forms of on-the-job discourse in government, industry, and academic settings. The course will primarily emphasize the social and pragmatic effects and secondarily those of genre. It will include a research project dealing with the impact of the conditions and constraints of a work setting on some feature of the discourse produced in that setting. (Olsen)

541/CS 595/EECS 595. Theory of Natural Language Structure. CS 492. (3). (Excl).

This course will be a survey of structural or syntactic theories of natural language including phrase structure and unification based grammars, methods of parsing, and connections with semantics and pragmatics. Course work will include the use of existing natural language computer systems. (Rounds)


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