Courses in Linguistics (Division 423)

102. First Year Seminar (Humanities). (3). (HU).
Section 001 Words and Their Uses: Studying Vocabulary in Time, Space, and Social Life.
The general focus of this course is on the origin and history of words in languages, with special reference to the vocabulary of English. We look at the sources of our vocabulary in early forms of English and in other languages (such as French and Latin) and at the differences between American and British usage. We also consider the relation of words in language to what they stand for in the real world (semantics), the range of meanings that a single word may have, and the changes of meaning that lead up to present day usage. We will then move on to study various aspects of the use of words by speakers and 'jargon,' metaphor, poetic usage, and the use of language by politicians and journalists. Amongst other things we will consider the effects of feminism and `political correctness' on current usage. Later in the course we will consider the activities of language `mavens' and the effect of notions of correctness on the use of words. [Students will be expected to possess a good etymological dictionary and should preferably have access to a thesaurus, such as a recent edition of Roget's Thesaurus. ] (Milroy)

Section 002 Language and Gender. Over the past two decades, scholars have become aware of the role gender plays in how we interact with language. This course aims to understand how the social lives of women and men interact with the ways languages are structured and learned, how people talk to each other in face-to-face interaction, and what and how we read and write. It will also include how gender affects boys and girls as they learn to talk. We will consider these issues across time and space, looking historically and culturally at language use. We will read a wide range of materials - from autobiography to fiction including diaries, romance novels, detective stories as well as scholarly material; we will examine different methodologies including ethnography and experiments. Work in linguistics, anthropology, philosophy, psychology, sociology, literature, and feminist theory will be part of our readings and class discussions. We will keep journals about what we read and our reactions to them, and we will write different types of brief papers throughout the term culminating in a small research project. (Keller-Cohen)

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 insight into "human nature." This course is an analytic introduction to the methods linguists use for describing languages (although general training in analytic thought is our ultimate goal). Drawing on examples from a large number of the world's languages, we will look at the sounds of language, how they are produced, and how they pattern into words; we will study the diverse ways in which individual languages approach processes of word and sentence formation, while we ask whether there are processes universal to all languages. By focusing simultaneously on language data and on the techniques used by linguists to make sense of these data, we will see that our understanding of the object of inquiry (language) is influenced by our methods of inquiry. Requirements include problem-solving assignments, quiz(zes), midterm and final exams; no prerequisite except an interest in language and thinking. (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 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, and a final exam. (Lippi-Green)

272/Anthro. 272. Language in Society. Primarily for freshmen and sophomores. (4). (SS). (This course meets the Race and Ethnicity Requirement).

See Anthropology 272. (Mannheim)

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. (Beddor)

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

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 we will 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. (Carnie)

317. 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 political or 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 culture of earlier society or determining prehistoric migrations and homeland of different peoples. 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 vehicle of expression. Both halves will be illustrated with examples from various languages and cultures of Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world. There will be two exams and a term paper. Readings will be made available in handouts. Knowledge of a foreign language is not necessary. (Dworkin)

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. (Sands)

351. Second Language Acquisition. (3). (SS).

This introductory course in second language acquisition will focus on current theories of second language acquisition and how they relate to second language development and teaching. The course will cover some of the major historical highlights of SLA research and provide students with experience in data analysis and interpretation. While much of the literature focuses on the acquisition of English, examples and analysis of other language data will be discussed. The course is intended for all students interested in understanding and evaluating proposed models of second language acquisition. Undergraduates should register for Linguistics 351 and graduates for 551. Both courses will meet together with additional sessions and work for 551 credit. (Madden)

361. Studies in American Sign Language. (3). (Excl).

Historically, most of what has been known about human language has come from the study of spoken languages. In the last three decades, linguists and psychologists have begun to study the properties of American Sign Language, a language which has developed independently of English, and which uses visual signals rather than sound to convey meaning. This course surveys the issues raised by the study of ASL, including questions such as, what is the evidence that ASL is a "real language," and what is its role in Deaf culture? What are the properties which all human languages have in common, regardless of the medium in which they have developed? How do deaf children learn ASL, and how does normal ASL acquisition by children compare with the accomplishments of the "signing chimps"? What do studies of deaf stroke victims tell us about brain organization for language? (van Hoek)

395. Individual Research. Permission of instructor. (2-4). (Excl). (INDEPENDENT). May be repeated for a total of 6 credits.

Adequately prepared students can pursue individual research with a member of the faculty. Individual students should consult with faculty about ongoing projects in which they can participate. Reading and reports appropriate to the individual topic are required. A paper situating the research in the literature and describing the project and the student's role in it will normally be required.

406/English 406. Modern English Grammar. (3). (Excl).

See English 406. (Cureton)

408/English 408. Varieties of English. (3). (Excl).

See English 408. (Tanke)

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

This course is designed as an introduction to the field of linguistics for graduate students who have an interest in the nature of language. Upper-class undergraduates are also welcome. Class lectures will focus on the following core areas in linguistics: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. In addition, the student will learn the essential techniques for describing and analyzing language through working on real examples taken from a variety of languages in the world. Weekly practices and problem sets will be given, and the student who expects to do well in this course should be prepared to spend an adequate amount of time on them. There are no prerequisites. Students who have already had a general introduction to linguistics should enroll in an introduction to a specific field within linguistics: 313 (Sound Patterns), 412 (Phonetics), 413 (Phonology), 414 (Semantics and Pragmatics), 415 (Generative Syntax), 417 (Principles of Historical Linguistics), or 442 (Sociolinguistics). (Duanmu)

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

Phonology studies the sound system of human language. Topics to be addressed include distinctive features (which represent speech sounds), phonological rules (which describe sound changes), prosodic structure (syllable, stress, tone, intonation), multitiered phonology, feature geometry, and underspecification. Both theory and problem-solving ability will be emphasized. Besides readings for class, weekly exercises constitute an important part of the course. In addition, there is a final project. Prerequisite: Linguistics 313 or 412, or permission of the instructor. (Duanmu)

414. Semantics and Pragmatics. A course in Linguistics, junior standing, or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).

This is an introduction to semantics (literal meaning) and pragmatics (contextual and inferred meaning) with emphasis on applications to grammatical analysis. It focuses on grammatical categories (deixis, tense, aspect, mood, possession, number, thematic relations, etc.) of English and other languages. There is a brief introduction to truth-conditional formal semantics in the tradition of Frege and Montague. Pragmatic topics covered in reasonable depth include illocution and speech acts, presupposition, and implicature. There are occasional forays into cross-cultural lexical semantics (e.g., color terms). Two papers, final exam. No specific prerequisites. Designed for first-year graduate students; well-prepared undergraduates are welcomed, but Linguistics concentrators should take 314 rather than 414 to fulfill concentration requirements. (Baxter)

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. (Milroy)

418. Linguistic Typology. (3). (Excl).

While humans appear fairly alike in physical characteristics and mental capacity, their languages (and cultures) are extremely diverse. Is such diversity infinitely random and inherently unpredictable? Or can languages be divided into a small number of discrete types? Are there characteristics that all languages share? How are formal properties of human language related to or independent of its functions? These are some of the questions addressed by language typologists through a comparative methodology that depends on developing uniform definitions of grammatical categories and applying them across a number of languages. Linguistics 418 invites students to master this methodology by (1) having them investigate unfamiliar languages through study of published descriptive grammars and (2) relating this direct experience to the principle findings of contemporary typological research. Course work consists of (1) readings and lectures on the major categories and parameters which are used to describe and classify languages, (2) a number of short reports on given phenomena as they are manifested in the languages that individual students adopt, (3) discussion and comparison of these findings in class, (4) a midterm exam, and (5) a final term paper treating a particular typological parameter in one or more languages. Students will make oral presentations based on pre-final versions of their term papers. Prerequisite: Linguistics 415 (formal syntax) or instructor's permission. (Hook)

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. (Swales)

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 a 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. (van Hoek)

473/Anthro. 473. Ethnopoetics: Cross-Cultural Approaches to Verbal Art. Two courses in anthropology, linguistics or literature, or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).

See Anthropology 473. (Bierwert)

492. Topics in Linguistics. (3). (Excl). May be elected for credit twice.
Section 001 Language and History in Africa.
There are hundreds of languages spoken in Africa today, and each one has its own story to tell. In this class, we examine the primary methods used to study language in order to learn about African history. Special focus is given to languages of Eastern and Southern Africa, including: Khoisan languages (e.g., !Kung, Khoekhoe) and Bantu languages (e.g., KiSwahili, isiZulu). In particular, we will see how linguistic analyses can provide insight into the history of hunter-gatherers. We will examine basic structures of the major African language families, as well as the types of interactions that have occurred between them. The course requirements are readings, homework assignments, class participation, and a final project or paper. This course is recommended for anyone interested in Linguistics, African Studies, History, or Anthropology. Previous course work in Linguistics is recommended but not required. (Sands)

Section 002 Introduction to Indo-European. This course includes: (1) 210 years of Indo-European studies from intuitive word likening to a well-defined methodology of comparison and reconstruction of languages. We will study most prominent scholars in the field of Indo-European studies. (2) Ancient Indo-Europeans. Theories about their homeland and migrations to different territories of Europe and Asia. Words borrowed from other languages; words borrowed by neighboring peoples from Indo-Europeans. The way of life of 8,000 years ago, their cultural and religious concepts. (3) Indo-European daughter languages: Germanic, Celtic, Italic Hellenik, Baltic, Slavic, Indo-Iranian, Tocharian, Anatolian, etc. Homelands and migrations, their ways of life, cultures, and religions. Evolution of Indo-European dialects to independent languages. (4) Methods of reconstruction of the Indo-European Proto-language phonetics, morphology, syntax, and lexics. (5) Phonetics vowels, stops, sonorants, fricatives. (6) Grammar - case system, verbal system, grammatival particles, peculiarities of Indo-European phrase structure, word order, etc. (7) Relations to other languages typological similarities, probable genetic relationship, and why. Modern work in the field of external relationship. (8) Perspectives. There are no prerequisites for this course. Students will be evaluated by frequent exercises done at home, discussions in class, and by two short papers. (Shevoroshkin)


lsa logo

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.