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Linguistics and Cognitive Science


1. Introductory Linguistics

08F, 09S, 09F, 10S: 12

An introduction to the scientific description of human language. The course teaches methods of analyzing languages’ sound systems (phonology), word structure (morphology), sentence patterns (syntax), and systems of meaning (semantics and pragmatics). Some important implications of linguistics for the study of human cognition and cultural behavior will be discussed. This course is a prerequisite for all majors in linguistics.

Open to all classes. Dist: QDS. The staff.

7. First-Year Seminar in Linguistics

Consult special listings

8. The Structure of Maori

09W, 10W: D.F.S.P. (New Zealand)

This course is an introduction to the structure of the Maori language. Emphasis is given to the morphology and syntax of basic Maori clause structure. This course is taught by a member of the Department of Maori Studies at the University of Auckland.

10. Language Acquisition (Identical to Education 58 and Psychology 52)

09W: 10A

Human language is one of the most spectacular of the brain’s cognitive capacities, one of the most powerful instruments in the mind’s tool kit for thought, and one of the most profound means we as a species use in social, emotional, and cultural communications. Yet the break-neck speed and seemingly “effortless” way that young children acquire language remain its most miraculous characteristic. We will discover the biological capacities and the important social, family, and educational factors that, taken together, make this feat possible and establish the basic facts of language acquisition, involving children’s babbling, phonology, early vocabulary, morphology, syntax, semantics, and discourse knowledge, as well as their early gestural and pragmatic competence. Prevailing theoretical explanations and research methods will be explored. We will dispel myths of how bilingual children acquire two languages from birth. We will leave our hearing-speaking modality and explore the world of language acquisition in total silence-regarding the acquisition of natural signed languages-as innovative lens into the factors that are most key in acquiring all language. Critically, we will evaluate the efficacy of how language is presently taught to young children in schools in light of the facts of human language acquisition.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC. Nelson.

11. Topics in Linguistics

08F: 10 09X: 10A

In 08F, Words. This course explores all aspects of this most familiar unit of language. Among the questions we will address are: How exactly can we—or dictionary-makers—describe the precise meaning of a word? Is this even possible? How can two politicians honestly differ about the meaning of the word “lie”? How can a word’s meaning change over time? How and why are words borrowed from one language into another? How do our brains think of the words we want so fast? Why do we sometimes mishear song lyrics? What makes a word part of slang or a specialized vocabulary? How do children learn their first words—and how do they learn tens of new words a day at their peak of vocabulary acquisition around age 2?

Open to all classes. Ernst.

In 09X, Language in South and South East Asia. This course will survey aspects of the current linguistic environment of the complex South and Southeast Asian regions, concentrating on what aspects of language structure and use either distinguish the regions or bind them together. Topics to be addressed include: geographical position and genealogical classification of languages; sound and grammatical systems; writing systems; sociolinguistic issues (e.g., politeness, stylistic variation); language as a marker of ethnic identity and language policies of regional governments.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; Wcult: NW. Peterson.

17. Sociolinguistics

09W: 10A

The field of sociolinguistics deals with the ways in which language serves to define and maintain group identity and social relationships among speakers. In this course we will consider such topics as regional and social variation in language; the relationship of language and ethnicity, sex and gender; language and social context; pidgin and creole languages; language endangerment and the fate of minority languages in the US and other countries; language planning, multiculturalism and education.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI. Stanford.

18. History of the English Language (Identical to English 18)

09X: Arrange

The development of English as a spoken and written language as a member of the Indo-European language family, from Old English (Beowulf), Middle English (Chaucer), and Early Modern English (Shakespeare), to contemporary American English. Topics may include some or all of the following: the linguistic and cultural reasons for ‘language change,’ the literary possibilities of the language, and the political significance of class and race.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC. Otter.

20. Experimental Phonetics

10S: 10

This course is an introduction to speech physiology, articulation, and the acoustic analysis of speech. Students will acquire knowledge of the experimental and computational techniques that are relevant for investigating the production of speech. This includes equipment functioning, data collection and recording techniques, techniques for analyzing speech acoustics, analysis of data from a variety of languages.

Prerequisite: Linguistics 1. Dist: TAS. The staff.

21. Introduction to Phonology

09W: 10

Phonology is the study of the system underlying selection and use of sounds in languages of the world. The course will introduce students to investigation of these topics from the perspective of recent theories of phonology. Readings, class discussions, and homework problems will provide a basis for understanding the origin, role, and uses of sound systems in spoken languages.

Prerequisite: Linguistics 1. Dist: QDS. Peterson.

22. Syntax

08F: 2 09F: 12

An introduction to the formal analysis of grammatical structure. The course aims to familiarize the student with Principles and Parameters Theory (PPT), the theoretical framework which currently dominates the field of syntax in North America. The course also provides an introduction to using data to support one syntactic analysis over another, and an overview of some of the major syntactic phenomena in the world’s languages.

Prerequisite: Linguistics 1. Dist: QDS. Ernst.

23. Semantics and Pragmatics

10S: 2

An investigation of ‘meaning’ in language: word meaning, sentence meaning and its relation to syntactic structure, and the role of both linguistic and extra-linguistic context.

Prerequisite: Linguistics 1. Dist: QDS. The staff.

24. Discourse Analysis

09S: 11

Discourse analysis examines linguistic structure that exist beyond the sentence level. In this course we will consider the structures of naturally occurring spontaneous speech (such as conversations, interviews, oral narratives) and those in written text. Special attention is given to the global priorities of connected speech and writing, including mechanisms of coherence and cohesion. Other topics include narrative structures, new and old information, topicalization, foregrounding and backgrounding, and the methods of conversational analysis and variation analysis.

Prerequisite: Linguistics 1. Dist: SOC. Peterson.

25. Typology

10W: 2

This course is an introduction to the field of language typology. We begin by exploring the core assumptions and methods of the discipline, and by reviewing typologies based on word order and morphology. Then, we examine a variety of grammatical categories and constructions including tense/aspect, case, relative, clauses, serial verbs, and switch-reference. Throughout the course we will also consider the sorts of explanations which have been put forth to account for typological patterns.

Prerequisite: Linguistics 1. Dist: SOC. The staff.

26. Morphology

09S: 2

Morphology is the study of word structure and word-formation processes, and how these interact with phonology, syntax, and the lexicon. This course focuses on analyzing morphological phenomena in a wide range of typologically diverse languages. Topics to be addressed include the place of word formation in relation to phonological and syntactic phenomena, as well as the contribution of morphological analysis to our understanding of lexical processing. We will consider the history of morphological theory in generative grammar, with special attention to recent approaches, including Distributed Morphology.

Prerequisite: Linguistics 1. Dist: QDS. Pulju.

27. Historical Linguistics

09W: 12

An introduction to historical linguistics and the comparative method. Linguistic change on all levels (phonetic/phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic) will be studied, with special attention to the problems of historical reconstruction. The course will investigate families in general, with emphasis on the Indo-European languages.

Prerequisite: Linguistics 1 or Linguistics 18. Dist: QDS. Pulju.

35. Field Methods

08F: 10A

This course provides an overview of issues that arise in collecting language data in the field. We will examine techniques used in the gathering and analysis of data and practical problems that confront the fieldworker.

Prerequisites: Linguistics 21 and one other course in the 20’s. Dist: QDS. Peterson.

50. Special Topics in Linguistics

09W: 10A, 2A 09F: 10A 10W: 12

In 09W and 09F at 10A, Discourse, Culture and Identity in Asia and the Middle East (Identical to Asian and Middle East Languages and Literatures 17). This course introduces theories of discourse, communication and sociolinguistics and illustrates how Asian and Middle Eastern cultures employ language to construct and reflect values, identities and institutions, to negotiate relationships, and to perform actions (such as ending a phone call, apologizing, worshipping and writing a scientific paper). Particular attention will be paid to uses of orality and literacy, to gender and ethnicity, and to the social and material contexts in which language and literature operate.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC or INT; WCult: NW. Glinert.

In 09W at 2A, History of Linguistics. This course covers the history of linguistics from ancient times up until the present, concentrating on the 20th century. Major themes include: the controversy over the status of linguistics as a science; the recurrent conflict between theoretical and applied linguistics; the relation of trends in linguistics to general contemporaneous intellectual trends; and the relative importance of social factors in determining the acceptance of particular linguists’ ideas. Specific theoretical issues will also be considered, such as: the nature and significance of the phoneme; the degree to which syntax is independent of semantics and pragmatics; realist vs. nominalist views of linguistic description; and formalist vs. functionalist disagreements over the autonomy of language.

Prerequisites: One or more linguistics courses in the 20s. Dist: SOC. Pulju.

80. Seminar in Linguistics

09S: 10

In 09S, Indo-European Linguistics. In this course, we will use the methods of comparative and historical linguistics to reconstruct the phonology, grammar, and lexicon of Proto-Indo-European, and to determine the changes that have taken place between the proto-language and its attested descendants.

Prerequisite: Linguistics 15/27 and knowledge of at least one highly inflected Indo-European language (such as Latin, Greek, or Old English). WCult: W. Pulju.

85. Independent Study and Research

All terms: Arrange

This course offers qualified students of linguistics the opportunity to pursue work on a topic of special interest through an individually designed program.

Requires permission of the instructor and the Chair.

86. Honors Research.

All terms: Arrange

87. Honors Thesis.

All terms: Arrange

Linguistics 86 and 87 consist of independent research and writing on a selected topic under the supervision of a Program member who acts as advisor. Open to honors majors in Linguistics. Permission of the thesis advisor and the Chair required.


2. Cognition (Identical to, and described under, Psychology 28)

09S, 10S: 2

Prerequisite: Psychology 1 or Computer Science 5. Dist: SOC. Kelley.

44. Artificial Intelligence (Identical to, and described under, Computer Science 44)

09W: 10 10W: Arrange

Prerequisite: Computer Science 23 and 25. Dist: TAS. The staff.

85. Independent Study and Research

All terms: Arrange

This course offers qualified students of cognitive science the opportunity to pursue work on a topic of special interest through an individually designed program.

Requires permission of the instructor and the Chair.

86. Honors Research

All terms: Arrange

87. Honors Thesis

All terms: Arrange

Cognitive Science 86 and 87 consist of independent research and writing on a selected topic under the supervision of a Program member who acts as advisor. Open to honors majors in Cognitive Science. Permission of the thesis advisor and the Chair required.