101 People and Their Language (3 units)

Fall 2007


MW 1:25 - 2:15 - Bartlett 65




John McCarthy []


Disc 1: F 9:05 (Wendell Kimper; ) Bartlett 3

Disc 2: F 10:10 (Martin Walkow; ) Bartlett 109

Disc 3: F 11:15 (Leah Bateman; ) LGRC A201

Disc 4: F 1:25 (Leah Bateman; ) Morrill I - N317

Disc 5: F 12:20 (Martin Walkow; ) LGRC A205

Disc 6: F 2:30 (Leah Bateman; ) Morrill I - N317

Disc 7: F 10:10 (Pasha Siraj) Chenoweth 113

Disc 8: F 1:25 (Martin Walkow; ) Herter 119

Disc 9: F 11:15 (Wendell Kimper; ) Tobin 307

Disc 10: F 12:20 (Pasha Siraj) Herter 210

Disc 11: F 1:25 (Wendell Kimper; ) Herter 111

Disc 12: F 1:25 (Pasha Siraj) Herter 210


Language is a uniquely human instinct. It is also a major factor in human society. This course looks at the instinctual and social aspects of human language, answering questions like the following: Does Koko the gorilla know a language? How do honeybees communicate? How do children learn their first language, and why is it hard for adults to learn a second language? What happens to a child who grows up without exposure to language? What is the Boston accent? What mistake did Vanilla Ice make when he rapped “picture you and me on the beach and you be climbing up this tall coconut tree”? Do men and women use language differently? Is bilingual education a good idea? How should reading be taught? Why is Monty Python funny? Why are lawyers so hard to understand?


Biweekly multiple-choice quizzes about the lectures. Biweekly homework essays about the reading assignments. Optional term paper. No final exam.