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 analytic introduction to the methods which linguists for describing human languages. General training in analytic thought is the ultimate goal of this course, but the specific focus is language and 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? How do we know when we have enough data to analyze? 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. And – for those interested in broader learning experiences – these methods generalize very nicely to other (not specifically linguistic) analytic problems. There is no text and no readings. (Approximate cost: $0.00) But there are assignments, and they are not optional: (1) daily homework problems (counting for 15% of course grade), (2) weekly large-scale analysis problems (15%), (3) daily participation, in class and in a computer conference (15%), 4) quizzes (15%), (5) a week-long take-home midterm exam (15%), and (6) a weeklong take-home final exam (25%). Exercises will be problem-solving assignments, involving analysis of phonetic, phonological, morphological, or syntactic data from various languages. There is no prerequisite except an interest in language and thinking; but that is a definite prerequisite – this is a difficult course and you are advised not to take it unless you are interested in it, and willing to work and think hard. Cost:1 WL:4 (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 apply them 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 a 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 American Sign Language and its role in Deaf culture. Course work includes eight short homework assignments, one midterm examination and a final exam. Cost:1 WL:4 (van Hoek)
272/Anthro. 272. Language in Society. Primarily for freshmen and sophomores. (4). (SS). (This course fulfills the Race or Ethnicity Requirement).
See Anthropology 272. (Ahearn)
313. Sound Patterns. Sophomore standing. (3). (SS).
This course explores two fundamental aspects of the sounds of human languages: speech sounds as physical entities (phonetics) and speech sounds as linguistic units (phonology). In viewing sounds as physical elements, the focus is articulatory descriptions: How are speech sounds made? What types of articulatory movements and configurations are used to differentiate sounds in the world's languages? In this part of the course, the goal is to learn to produce, transcribe, and describe in articulatory terms many of the sounds known to occur in human languages. In the next part of the course, the focus is on sounds as members of a particular linguistic system. Phonological data from a wide range of languages are analyzed – that is, regularities or patterns in sound distribution are extracted from the data set and then stated within a formal phonological framework. We will also construct arguments to support the proposed analyses, and will find that phonetic factors play a crucial role in validating phonological analyses. Throughout the course, a major emphasis is that speech sounds are simultaneously physical and linguistic elements, and that these two aspects of sound structure are interdependent. Class sessions will consist of lectures, phonetic practice, and discussion of phonological data sets. Course grades will be based on weekly assignments, midterm, and take-home final exam. Linguistics 210, 211, 411, or permission of instructor is required to take the course. (Cooper)
314. Introduction to Word Analysis. (3). (Excl).
Discourse, whether written or spoken, is the strategic deployment or elicitation of meanings, carried out in the context of genres with their own conventions and rules (a pulp novel, a sermon, subway graffiti, a lover's quarrel). Since all discourse implies or assumes as much as it states, we need a theory of "pragmatics" to understand how discourse is actually processed. Under a microscope, even a pleasant dinnertime conversation is seen as a set of "moves" in which roles and dominance relations are acted out or challenged. Linear structures are therefore important (the distribution of "turns" in a conversation, the sequence of elements that make up a joke). But we must also analyse meaning systems, especially when participants think in different semantic "worlds", or when the participants project distinct spins on the "same" events and situations (as in a political debate). Many of meaning systems we encounter in ordinary life, as well as in literature, are "metaphorical" in some sense. Although many types of text will be discussed, a certain emphasis will be placed on doctor/patient communication, including psychiatric interviews involving Anorexia patients, where the participants differ dramatically in semantic "world" and may ockey for conversational control accordingly. Students will do individual projects and are encouraged to study discourse genres of personal interest to them or relevant to their future professions. (Heath)
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 research. Coursework will consist of a midterm, a final or a coursepaper, 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. Cost:1 (Hook)
406/English 406. Modern English Grammar. (3). (Excl).
See English 406. (Cureton)
410/Anthro. 474. Language and Discrimination: Language as Social Statement. (3). (SS).
In this course we examine the interplay between language and ideological processes which function below the level of consciousness. We are concerned with the suppression of linguistic variation; that is, with the development of a standard language ideology, which is understood to be a bias toward an abstracted, idealized, (but ultimately unattainable) homogenous spoken language, modeled on variants favored by the white, middle American mainstream. This ideology is one of many social practices on which people depend without close analysis of underlying assumptions. In this class, we will look into those assumptions – linguistic and social. We will examine the way in which these behaviors are institutionalized by the media, the entertainment industry, school systems, business community and the judicial system, all of which promote standard language ideology and underwrite assimilatory – and often discriminatory – practices, the goal of which is to suppress perfectly functional language variation intimately linked to homeland, race, and ethnicity. We will look at issues of language choice and accent as legal issues in the courts. This course should be of interest to those concerned with non-mainstream language varieties as a cultural resource and asset, historical heritage and potential complication in supra-cultural communication. An introductory linguistics course would be helpful but is not essential. Cost:2 WL:4 (Lippi-Green)
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. It is intended for graduate students, especially those in anthropology and in programs in languages and literatures (American Studies, Classics, English, Romance, Slavic, Germanic, Asian Languages and Cultures, Near Eastern Studies, Comparative Literatures, etc.). Upperclass undergraduates are also welcome. In addition to readings, lectures, and classroom discussion, students will learn the essential techniques for describing and analyzing language through working on problem sets taken from a variety of languages in the world. Topics covered include phonetics and phonology (the nature and organization of speech sounds) and morphology and syntax (the formation of words and the organization of words into phrases and sentences). Some attention will also be given to semantics (how languages convey meaning) and pragmatics (how meaning interacts with social and situational context). Other topics include variation of linguistic features from place to place (dialect formation) and over the course of time (historical linguistics). Course requirements: There will be quizzes and problem sets, an hour exam, and a final exam. With approval of the instructor students may write a term paper in lieu of taking the final. There are no prerequisites for 411. Students who have already had a general introduction to linguistics should enroll in an introduction to a specific field within linguistics: 412 (Phonetics), 414 (Semantics and Pragmatics), 415 (Generative Syntax), 417 (Principles of Historical Linguistics), 419 (Discourse Analysis) or 442 (Sociolinguistics). Cost:1 WL:4 (Hook)
413. Phonology. (3). (Excl).
Phonology studies the sound system of human speech. We will examine the fundamental elements of sounds, the intrinsic structures among the elements, and higher levels of sound organization. We will also discuss the nature of sound change, both synchronically and through time, and the diversity and commonality among different human speeches. In addition, we will ask what phonology can tell us about the human mind. Both theory and problem solving ability will be emphasized. Prerequisite: Linguistics 412 or by permission of the instructor. Cost:1 WL:4 (Duanmu)
414. Semantics and Pragmatics. A course in Linguistics, junior standing, or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).
Semantics is the study of meaning in language; pragmatics is the study of the use of language in human contexts. Like epistemology and ontology, semantics and pragmatics are traditionally studied together, because the boundary between them is relatively fuzzy, and because they deal with many of the same topics from different standpoints. Since both deal with function in language, semantics and pragmatics interact crucially with its form, and thus provide a critical elaboration of the formal study of syntax. We will refer often to grammatical concepts in this course; students should have had at least one course in grammar or syntax before taking it. Topics discussed include: the nature of "meaning"; semantic categories and grammaticalization; predication and complementation; deixis and reference; presupposition and entailment; speech acts and performatives; metaphor; sound symbolism; linguistic function and functionalism; lexical spaces and frames; figure/ground distinctions; formal and computational approaches to meaning; and the implications of semantics and pragmatics for linguistic theory. Textbooks include: Frawley, "Linguistic Semantics", Levinson, "Pragmatics", and Ellis, "Language, Thought, and Logic". Prerequisite: one course in linguistic grammar or syntax. There will be several short papers and problems, and a research term paper. (Lawler)
417/Anthro. 476/German 417. Principles and Methods of Historical Linguistics. Ling. 411 or equivalent. (3). (Excl).
This course explores the nature of historical relationships between languages, processes of linguistic change (a universal feature of all living languages) and the assumptions, methods, and tools employed by linguists in studying this phenomenon. Insofar as possible, examples of linguistic change and analytical techniques will be illustrated through a study of the history of several major language families, including Indo-European. There will be frequent discussions in class, as well as short written assignments. Cost:1 WL:4 (Shevoroshkin)
418. Linguistic Typology. (3). (Excl).
"Typology" began as the classification of languages into a small set of "types," each based on one defining feature (such as word order), which helped linguists get a handle on the bewildering array of grammars of "exotic" non-European languages. It was soon recognized that a major defining feature often entailed an absolute or statistical correlation with additional (minor) features. Functionalists explain such typological complexes as "conspiracies" to perform discourse tasks, such as keeping track of multiple referents in a narrative. The interplay between cognitive "information processing" strategies and efficient encoding strategies is central here. Back at the ranch, some formal syntacticians have now abandoned English-centric models to identify typological "parameters of variation" whereby each key structural choice entails a train of morphosyntactic consequences. Functionalists prefer sweeping, world-wide surveys, while formalists prefer microtypology (careful comparison of a small number of genetically or regionally related languages), though these preferences are not absolute. An important recent development is the "typologization" of historical linguistics, as historical typologists identify recurrent patterns of morphosyntactic change. This course will explore formal and functional approaches to cross-linguistic study, showing how "exotic" grammars challenge standard models. Students will read reference grammars as well as theoretical writings and will be trained in the methodologies of both functional and formal typology. Designed for graduate students. Prerequisite: Linguistics 415 (formal syntax) or instructor's permission. (Heath)
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:4 (Swales)
449/CAAS 439. Creole Languages and Caribbean Identities. (3). (Excl).
Creole languages spoken in the Caribbean are among the offspring of colonization's interbreeding of African and European cultures. Haitian Creole, for example, takes its primary roots from both Niger-Congo languages and varieties of French, as spoken on 17th and 18th century plantations. Through a sample of linguistic case studies, we will explore creolization from a historical and comparative perspective, tracing Caribbean creoles back to their African and European ancestors. Are Caribbean creoles simply 'dialects' of European languages? Or, in the opposite extreme view, are most creole grammatical structures inherited from their African progenitors, with the European contribution limited to providing words? With such questions as a backdrop, we will evaluate various hypotheses about Creole genesis, and explore the creative aspects of creolization, namely, creole structures which seem absent from the source languages. Then, we will examine the sociocultural ramifications of creolization and their intrinsic syncretism, as expressed through religion, music, literature, etc. We will also address questions of identities and mis-identifications by looking at creole speakers' attitudes toward race and toward the African and European components of their languages and cultures. Comparisons will be made with facets of African-American culture. (Materials for analysis will include texts, recordings and films.) Cost:2 WL:4 (DeGraff)
451/Psych. 451. Development of Language and Thought. Psych. 350. (3). (SS).
See Psychology 451. (Gelman)
455. Introduction to Cognitive Grammar. One of the following: Ling. 210, 211, 411, Psych. 447, or 451; or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).
This course examines the grammar of English from a cognitive perspective, focusing on questions such as: What is the nature of meaning? Can we talk about the meanings of words and sentences in a precise and revealing way? How does grammar function as a system for conveying complex meanings? The theory of Cognitive Grammar treats language as a symbolic system, in which the structure of sentence symbolizes facets of its meaning. It describes grammatical notions such as noun and verb in terms of the subtly different meanings they convey – claiming for example that the verb 'destroy' and the noun 'destruction' do not "mean the same thing," but rather present different images of the same scene. Course requirements include 4-6 homework assignments, a midterm and a final exam. Cost:1 WL:4 (van Hoek)
University of Michigan | College of LS&A | Student Academic Affairs | LS&A Bulletin Index
This page maintained by LS&A Academic Information and Publications, 1228 Angell Hall
The Regents of the University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 USA +1 734 764-1817
Trademarks of the University of Michigan may not be electronically or otherwise altered or separated from this document or used for any non-University purpose.