Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session
Recitations: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session
This class will provide some answers to basic questions about the nature of human language. Throughout the course, we will be learning (in many different ways) that human language is a surprisingly intricate -- yet law-governed and fascinating mental system. In the first 2/3 of the class, we will study some core aspects of this system in detail. In the last part of the class, we will use what we have learned to address a variety of questions, including how children acquire language, what are the similarities and differences among languages, how spoken (and signed) language relates to written language, among others.
Goals of the Course
By the end of the course, you should be able to
- Manage raw language data and do fieldwork
- Formulate and test linguistically informed hypotheses
- Determine underlying / deep structures hidden below surface patterns
- Give simple accounts for a range of bewildering language facts
- Detect universal principles among diverse languages
- Describe and make predictions about the sound system of English and more "exotic" languages
- Parse words, phrases and sentences
- Reconstruct words of now extinct languages
- Have fun learning about human language
Fromkin, Victoria, Robert Rodman, and Nina Hyams. An Introduction to Language. 7th ed. Boston, MA: Thomson Heinle, 2003. ISBN: 1413017738.
Requirements and Procedures
- General: Throughout the semester, students will do (a) short assignments that relate directly to the material covered in the preceding lectures (problem sets); (b) two short quizzes covering several areas; (c) a comprehensive final exam; and (d) individual research in the form of a final field project.
- Problem sets are handed out at Monday's lecture (except for the first assignment). They are due the following Monday after they have been assigned. You have the option of handing in your problem set late twice (at the beginning of the recitation section of the week it is due). Your TA will keep track of the late option(s) that you took. In addition, if you do all the problem sets, you will have the option of dropping the lowest grade. No exceptions to this will be made. You will be asked to do some writing in every assignment. Writing will count in the calculation of your grade for each assignment. We will also comment on your writing in each assignment.
- Quizzes: The first quiz will cover morphology, syntax and semantics. The second quiz will cover phonetics, phonology, dialectology, and historical linguistics.
- Final exam: A comprehensive exam covering all the material in the lectures and recitation sections, as well as that of the textbook and supplementary material will be covered. A review sheet will be distributed before the end of the term.
- Squib: Individual research for the squib consists of systematically investigating certain aspects of an unknown language. Results of this research will be developed into a full squib by the end of the semester. First, students prepare a two-page proposal and outline of the squib. The full squib should be approximately 8-10 pages.
- Reading: You should also do the reading assigned; it helps you to solve the problem sets, and also helps with the quizzes and exams. We will not cover all the material you are assigned to read in class; nonetheless, you are responsible for this material.
- Attendance at recitations is mandatory. Attendance in general but most specifically for recitation sections is calculated into your grade.
|8 Problem Sets
Honesty Policy for Problem Sets
General discussion of the assignments with other students is acceptable and encouraged (e.g. "Remind me, how do I know if something is an allophone?"), but you must arrive at the actual solutions to problems on your own and write them up on your own.