24.910 | Spring 2003 | Undergraduate
Topics in Linguistics Theory


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session


The course will be structured as a weekly seminar meeting for three hours. There will be weekly reading assignments and a number of writing assignments, especially since this course is designated as a HASS-CI communication-intensive course.

Course Requirements


Four subjects in linguistics.

Class Attendance

Attending class meetings is an obligatory component of the class. Think of this as a regularly scheduled appointment with a group of friendly people with similar interests to yours. If you cannot make it to the weekly meeting, courtesy requires you to give prior notification (email or phone would be fine). There are of course acceptable excuses such as illness or family emergencies. Hangovers, disorganization, bad time management are not acceptable reasons to miss a class meeting. If there’s a pattern of missing class, your course grade will be lowered by one grade.

Criteria for HASS-CI Subjects: Communication intensive subjects in the humanities, arts, and social sciences should require at least 20 pages of writing divided among 3-5 assignments. Of these 3-5 assignments, at least one should be revised and resubmitted. HASS CI subjects should further offer students substantial opportunity for oral expression, through presentations, student-led discussion, or class participation.

Class Participation

This is a communication-intensive subject. Apart from the writing assignments described below, you are expected to participate vigorously in class discussions. When I lecture, I expect you to listen for understanding, ask questions, raise problems, answer questions, etc. When another student asks a question or raises a problem or answers a question, you should listen for understanding and be engaged in the ensuing conversation. I will grade your class participation on its vigor and count this towards 30% of the course grade.

Writing Assignments

All writing assignments must be typed or word-processed. Electronic submission encouraged (pdf-files only, no Word documents). Please keep a copy of all work you turn in. Late work will be accepted only under exceptional circumstances, and will be penalized unless an extension is granted in advance.

There will be four shorter writing assignments of 2-3 pages and one larger one of 8-12 pages. The longer one will be returned with feedback and a revision will be submitted.

The writing assignments will count towards 70% of the course grade. Of this, 35% are attributable to the long assignment, and 8.75% to each of the short assignments.

Policy on Collaboration Between Students

You are encouraged to discuss the writing assignments (and anything else about the class) with each other. You must however write up your assignments individually and you must be able to individually justify what you turn in. You should always indicate on your assignments whether and with whom you collaborated.

More About the Course


We are going to organize the seminar’s reading and discussion around two recent dissertations:

Garrett, Edward. “Evidentiality and Assertion in Tibetan.” UCLA PhD Dissertation. 2001.

Faller, Martina. “Semantics and Pragmatics of Evidentials in Cuzco Quechua.” Stanford PhD Dissertation. 2002.

The plan is that we will study these works, supplementing them with additional background readings and lectures, as needed.

You will have to do the assigned reading before each class, but also (re-) read relevant material (such as the lecture notes) after class.


As mentioned earlier, there are four short assignments and one long one. The latter will go through a submission-revision cycle.

Ses #3: Short Assignment
Ses #5: Short Assignment
Ses #6: Short Assignment
Ses #8: Long Assignment
Ses #9: Short Assignment
Ses #11: Long Assignment (revised)

The topics will come directly out of our readings and discussions. Here is how it is going to work:

While we’re reading, keep track of questions that arise. I will keep such a list, but you should also keep your own. Once a week, ideally by Sunday or early Monday, I would like you to email me any questions, issues, that have come up for you. Some of the questions will be ones you’ll want to ask me about and we’ll discuss in class or one-on-one. Others will answer themselves as you proceed with reading and thinking. But some might warrant some more research or meditation, those would be perfect to write about in your assignments, even if it takes just a page or less. So, to reach your writing quota, just pick enough questions to answer until you have 2-3 pages of discussion. At any time you should consult with me if it would help you.

For the longer assignment, we need to find a topic or research question for each of you that is both interesting and stimulating enough and also relevant and fruitful. This means we need to agree on a topic. You can either pick one from a list I will provide or negotiate with me about one of your own.

Course Info
As Taught In
Spring 2003
Learning Resource Types
notes Lecture Notes
assignment Written Assignments