201H Introduction to Linguistic Theory Honors (3 units)

Spring 2008


TuTh 1:00-2:15 - Bartlett 302


Cherlon Ussery []


This is the first course in the linguistics curriculum in which students learn how to analyze linguistic data. Students will look at a variety of languages in an attempt to discern patterns - both patterns that exist within particular languages and patterns that exist across languages. Students will then use those patterns to infer what kind of subconscious knowledge speakers of various languages have. In essence, we will be working backward. Our core assumption is that the brain's language faculty operates like a computer. Our task is to analyze the production and comprehension of language in an attempt to decipher the program that operates the language faculty. Often, we will be using linguistic models to represent the generalizations that we discover. Students will be exposed to the main areas of linguistic inquiry: Phonetics-the study of the physical properties of sounds; Phonology-the study of how sounds pattern together within languages; Morphology-the study of how words are formed; Syntax-the study of how sentences are organized; Semantics-the study of meaning; and Pragmatics-the study of how context influences meaning. Additionally, students will be required to do original research in which they look at unfamiliar data and form generalizations.