201 (Sec. B) Intro to Linguistic Theory (3 units)

Fall 2008


MWF 11:15-12:05 - Hasbrouck 242


Chris Davis []


Fulfills R2 General Education requirement. Although the form that human languages take varies widely, they are all built up from the same basic building blocks. For example, Tzotzil, a language spoken in Central America, differs dramatically from English in a whole range of ways. Tzotzil can express in a single word what it takes English an entire sentence to say. And yet, both Tzotzil and English convey information by organizing sounds along guidelines that all languages seem to obey. This course introduces the essential mechanics of these building blocks and the guidelines that govern them. We examine the sound systems through which language is expressed, and discover how these bits of sound are structured into word-like and sentence-like units. Students are introduced to a wide variety of natural language phenomena, drawn from languages not only closely resembling English, but also many which appear to be quite unlike English, such as those native to the Americas, Africa, Australia and the South Pacific. Special emphasis is placed on phonology (how sounds are arranged into words), syntax (how words are arranged into sentences) and semantics (how meanings are encoded).