Courses in Linguistics (Division 423)

101. The Good and Bad Language Learner. (4). (Excl).

Have you ever wondered what you could do to learn a foreign language better? Have you ever "thought critically" of yourself as a language learner? Have you wondered why some types of language learning exercises seem harder for you than others? In this course, we intend to help students develop a critical approach towards the language learning task. The goal of the course is to develop a self-awareness of language learning strategies and of the developing linguistic systems, called interlanguages, that learners create as they attempt to learn a foreign language. We will first investigate what is known about language learning strategies and interlanguages through a set of selected readings, creating a critical appraisal of the relevant research literature. Next, we will learn a specially designed "pedagogical pidgin" language in order to study our own and others' learning (or lack of it). Finally, we will generalize from these experiences to create a language profile of each student. We will do everything we can to allow you to gain the basis to learn a foreign language better at the University of Michigan. Cost:2 WL:3 (Selinker)

112. Languages of the World. (3). (SS).
Section 001.
Language is a central concern of humankind and with good reason. As the conduit for most communicative and expressive needs as well as other tasks, it pervades virtually every aspect of human existence. Few realize, however, how truly rich the linguistic universe is until they consider the variety of distinct linguistic devices and practices employed by speakers of the 5000+ individual languages that have been identified to date. Appreciating and being able to explain the range of variety of spoken and written language among various peoples of the world is an essential key to understanding human culture and diversity. This course systematically addresses many of the questions which most fascinate us about language, thus widening our intercultural horizons and enhancing our sophistication about our own language and culture. It therefore serves those who wish to learn about both our own and other societies, particular languages or regions of the world, and the nature of the human mind.

Section 002. 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. (Myhill)

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

The English language is said to have almost a quarter-million words; words for everything from aardvarks 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 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 ad 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 uses 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 (take-home) final exam. (Lawler)

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

Nothing is more distinctly human than our ability 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. 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 studying these various aspects of language structure, we will focus our attention on such questions as: How does a linguist decide what ought to be studied in a given language? How do we go about collecting data? What techniques do we have for making sense of our data? What kinds of conclusions are we led to and how do we justify these conclusions? What do we do if our methods lead us to different accounts of the same phenomenon? Our answers to these questions will show us the extent to which our understanding of the object of inquiry (language) is influenced by our methods of inquiry. Required readings: Text: Akmajian, A., R. Demers, and H. Harnish. (1990). Linguistics: an introduction to language and communication (3rd edition). MIT Press. (See "ADH" listings in course syllabus.) Available at Shaman Drum Bookshop (313 S. State) Course pack: available at Michigan Document Service (603 Church). Supplementary readings: listed in course syllabus. These readings generally complement lecture material that is not covered in the text. (Additional readings may be added as the semester progresses.) Requirements: (1) weekly exercises (40% of course grade), (2) midterm exam (25%), and (3) final exam (35%). Exercises will be weekly problem-solving assignments, involving analysis of phonetic, phonological, morphological, syntactic, or historical data from various languages. Cost:2 WL:3 (Beddor)

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 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 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. Course work includes eight short homework assignments, one midterm examination and weekly participation in a computer conference. The final exam is optional. (Cooper, van Hoek)

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

See Anthropology 272. (Mannheim)

277/Anthro. 277. Literacy. (3). (Excl).

Are you literate? What does it mean to be literate? What do you make of the "literacy crisis" discussed in the media? This course will address these and other related questions by drawing on work from several disciplines including history, anthropology, psychology, English and linguistics. It will be offered in seminar-sized sections limited to 20 students each, and students will be expected to participate actively. Course readings will include literacy narratives such as The Education of Little Tree, Annie John, The Autobiography of Frederick Douglass, Lives on the Boundary, as well as such classics as Illiterate America, and articles from the major disciplines that study literacy. Requirements include a journal based on course readings, interviews with members of the community, collaborative research projects, oral presentations, and a final report. (Kirk)

318. Types of Languages. One course in linguistics. (3). (Excl).

Human languages, especially those of unfamiliar cultures, appear to be very different on the surface. But closer examination reveals that languages differ in systematic ways, so that they can be divided into a relatively small number of basic types. In this course, you will discover and learn about some of these basic patterns. We will then explore the reasons why these patterns exist, seeking explanations in the communicative function of language, and the evolution of languages. The course will introduce students to basic grammatical structure and function by (1) having them investigate unfamiliar languages through published descriptive grammars and (2) relating this direct experience to the principal findings of contemporary linguistic researchers. Course work will consist of a midterm, a final, and a series of regular assignments requiring students to consult a grammar (or grammars) to gather data on specific linguistic features. Through these assignments students can expect to develop some familiarity with a number of non-Western languages during the course. Prerequisite: a course in linguistics. (Hook)

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) and language acquisition Students will be required to submit short problems from time to time, but grades will be based upon two hour exams and a final. (Duanmu)

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

This course studies sound patterns of human languages. We will examine the ultimate units of human speech, the intrinsic structures among the units, the nature of sound change, and what is universal among all human speeches. We will also look at higher levels of sound patterns, such as syllabic and metrical structures, and the interactions between phonology and syntax. Both theory and problem solving ability will be emphasized. The grade will be largely based on weekly problem sets. Prerequisite: Linguistics 412 is recommended. (Duanmu)

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

Linguistics is about languages; and language structure should be explained by language function. These two principles underlie the approach to the analysis of language presented in this course. We will compare the grammatical structure of a variety of languages and discover what is universal about grammar. You will get a general feel for what is typical and what is atypical of language structure. Turning to explanation, we will account for universal patterns in language structure in terms of evolutionary adaptation to the communication function of language. Course work will involve weekly assignments and a take-home exam. This course can be used to satisfy the undergraduate syntax/typology requirement. (Myhill)

419. Discourse Analysis. A course in linguistics, junior standing, or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).

This course is an examination of the way speakers and writers use language to convey meaning. It includes analysis of interactional norms (e.g., turn-taking), textual relations (topic/focus, given/new), the representation of sound patterns and significance of discourse structural cues (e.g., "okay," intonational rises), and the role of belief systems (knowledge and social status) in text construction, performance, and interpretation. (McLemore)

429. Discourse Analysis and Language Teaching. (3). (Excl).

In recent years these two areas of activity have become aligned in several mutually beneficial ways. In this course we shall explore these relationships and attempt to further develop them. The course will be built around a number of group/individual projects designed to give participants training in their processes of collecting authentic language data, analyzing it and converting it into language teaching materials. Although the main focus of illustration will be ESL, every effort will be made to accommodate other interests. Assessment will be by short exercises and a final term paper/project. Cost:1 WL:3 (Swales)

447/Psych. 445. Psychology of Language. Psych. 340. (3). (Excl).

See Psychology 447. (Davidson)

451/Psych. 451. Development of Language and Thought. Psych. 350. (3). (SS).

See Psychology 451. (Ebeling)

455. Introduction to Cognitive Grammar. One of the following: Ling. 210, 211, 411, Psych. 447, or 451; or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).

What goes on in your head when you talk, or listen to someone else talk? This course will present the grammar of English from a cognitive perspective, based on psychological models of the storage and processing of concepts in the mind. In this perspective, grammar is a cognitive system that evolved in response to two major adaptive pressures: (1) constraints imposed by the structure of the human mind and (2) the need to encode, transmit and decode meaning in words and sentences. Language is a symbolic system, and the structure of the symbol (i.e., the sentences) can be explained in large part as a reflection of how we conceptualize the world. Grammar appears to be a gigantic network of stored constructions in the mind, and the processes of expression and understanding are ones of categorizing concepts in the "right" place in the network. We will explore the cognitive grammar of English, with occasional comparisons to other languages. Prerequisite: an introductory linguistics course (e.g., Linguistics 210, 211, or 411) or permission of the instructor. (van Hoek)

492. Topics in Linguistics. (3). (Excl). May be elected for credit twice.
Section 001 Literacy.
See Ling. 277. (Kirk)


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