Introductory Linguistics . . . sample syllabus

Anth/Cogs/Psyc 140.                                    Dr. John B. Gatewood
Introduction to Linguistics                              10C Price Hall #40
Spring, 2008                                                758-3814 / JBG1


This is a first course in descriptive linguistics -- an introduction to the study
of human language. There is no prerequisite other than sophomore standing. In
particular, it is not necessary that you speak or write any language other than
English to be in this course. Our goal is not so much to improve fluency in a
particular language as to learn how to analyze any natural language.

We begin with a brief consideration of the characteristics that distinguish human
language from other kinds of communication systems. Then, we examine different
aspects of language structure and use:  phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax,
semantics, and language universals. This survey of technical topics regarding
language structure will take about two-thirds of the semester. The last several
weeks, we shift attention to broader issues concerning language and its uses, such
as pragmatics, speech acts, language variation (registers and dialects), and
historical linguistics.

Class periods will be a mixture of lectures, discussion of readings, and in-class
exercises. Occasionally, I may provide xeroxed reading materials to supplement your
texts on particular topics, but for the most part, the two books, below, provide
all the requisite information for the course.

Outside of class, you will have regular homework assignments. Just as problem sets
are critical to learning mathematics, exercises are essential to mastering
linguistic concepts and analytical techniques, and doing homework carefully and on
time is an important part of this course.


There are two required texts for this course, both available in the university
bookstore. The book by Finegan is our "main text," supplemented by the workbook
by Frommer and Finegan.

     Finegan, Edward (2008) Language: Its Structure and Use, 5th Edition
     Boston: Thomson/Wadsworth.

     Frommer, Paul R. & Edward Finegan (2008) Looking at Languages: A Workbook
     in Elementary Linguistics, 4th Edition. Boston: Thomson/Wadsworth.


Your course grade will be determined by a variety of assignments, all announced
in advance.  These requirements and their relative weighting are as follows:
          3 in-class hour exams              300 points
          "weekly" homework assignments      100 points
          class participation                 50 points

As is clear from the course's daily schedule, I have allocated a considerable number
of class periods throughout the semester for "exercises and homework review." Please
note the following rules concerning homework assignments:
  a. All homework assignments are due at the beginning of class on the dates
     indicated on the attached daily schedule. During class time, we will go
     through the assignments to make sure that "next time" everyone would do them
  b. If, for any reason, you are unable to turn in your assignments when they are
     due, you must speak with me (not email) in advance and obtain my permission
     for alternative arrangements.
  c. All homework is to be done by yourself without assistance from others. Talking
     about the general ideas with classmates is fine, but you are to do the actual
     assignments alone.

Please note that you are to read all assignments in advance of the class period for
which they are assigned. This is the only way to achieve a meaningful discussion of
the readings. Finally, attendance is required; it is the minimal form of class


 1. Jan 14 (M)      Introductory Remarks
                    Design Characteristics of Human Language

 2. Jan 17 (W)      FILM -- "Discovering the Human Language: Colorless Green Ideas"
                    [MC VC LU 1487, pt. 1 ... 55 minutes]

 3. Jan 19 (F)      Languages and Linguistics
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 1

 4. Jan 21 (M)      Lexicon and Morphology: Words, Lexical Categories, Morphemes
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 2

 5. Jan 23 (W)      HOMEWORK DUE ... Frommer & Finegan:
          1.01 Lexical Categories: Lexical Categories in English
          1.03 Morphemes: Types of English Morphemes
          1.08 Morphemes: Spanish versus Hebrew Gender and Number

 6. Jan 25 (F)      Lexicon and Morphology: Organization of Morphemes in Words,
                    Creating New Words
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 2

 7. Jan 28 (M)      Lexicon and Morphology: Types of Morphological Systems
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 2

 8. Jan 30 (W)      HOMEWORK DUE ... Frommer & Finegan:
          1.05 Organization of Morphemes: Constituency and Word-Formation Rules in
          1.07 Increasing Vocabulary: English Past-Tense Productivity Experiment
          1.12 Inflectional Morphology: Latin Declensions
          1.13 Inflectional Morphology: Lakota Verbs

 9. Feb 1 (F)       Phonetics: Articulatory Phonetics
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 3

10. Feb 4 (M)       Phonetics: Articulatory Phonetics (cont.)
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 3

11. Feb 6 (W)       HOMEWORK DUE ... Frommer & Finegan:
          2.04 Phonetic Transcription: Reading Practice 3--Film and Play Names
          2.05 Phonetic Transcription: Reading Practice 4
          2.07 Phonetic Transcription: Writing Practice 2
          2.10 Consonants and Vowels: Classification and Experimentation
          2.11 Consonants and Vowels: Classification Practice 2
          2.13 Consonants and Vowels: Wichita C/V Inventory

12. Feb 8 (F)       Phonology: Phonemes and Allophones
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 4

13. Feb 11 (M)      Phonology: Phonological Rules, Syllables and Stress,
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 4

14. Feb 13 (W)      HOMEWORK DUE ... Frommer & Finegan:
          3.01 Phonemes and Allophones: Modern English [k] and [kh]
          3.10 Phonological Rules: Tokyo Japanese
          3.11 Phonological Rules: Italian [s] and [z]
          3.12 Phonological Rules: A Phonological Rule of Russian
          3.13 Phonological Rules: Cuban Spanish and "R-less" English
          3.18 Syllable Structure: Mandarin Chinese
          3.05 Morphology/Phonology Interaction: A Negative Prefix in English
          3.20 Morphology/Phonology Interaction: Articles in French and Arabic

15. Feb 15 (F)      ----------  FIRST EXAM  ----------

16. Feb 18 (M)      Syntax: Sentences, Constituents, and Tree Diagrams
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 5

17. Feb 20 (W)      Syntax: Constituents and Phrase-Structure Rules
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 5

18. Feb 22 (F)      Syntax: Constituents and Phrase Structure Rules (cont.)
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 5

19. Feb 25 (M)      HOMEWORK DUE ... Frommer & Finegan:
          4.02 Constituency and Tree Diagrams: English Constituent Structure
          4.03 Constituency and Tree Diagrams: English Sentence Trees
          4.04 Constituency and Tree Diagrams: Structural Ambiguity in English
          4.10 Constituency and Tree Diagrams: Spanish, Japanese, and English
          4.11 Phrase Structure Rules: Articles, Demonstratives, and Possessives in
               English, Italian, and Greek

20. Feb 27 (W)      Syntax: Surface Structures, Deep Structures, and Transformational
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 5

21. Feb 29 (F)      Syntax: Transformational Rules (cont.)
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 5

22. Mar 10 (M)      HOMEWORK DUE ... Frommer & Finegan:
          4.08 Transformations: English Question Formation with Modals
          4.14 Transformations: Case Marking and Relative Clauses in German
          4.16 Word Order: Aspects of Klingon

23. Mar 12 (W)      Semantics: Varieties of Meaning, Lexical Semantics
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 6

24. Mar 14 (F)      Semantics: Function Words and Categories of Meaning, Semantic
                    Roles and Sentence Semantics
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 6

25. Mar 17 (M)      HOMEWORK DUE ... Frommer & Finegan:
          5.01 Types of Meaning: Referential, Social, and Affective Meaning
          5.04 Lexical Semantics: English Metaphors 1
          5.06 Function Words and Categories of Meaning: Deictic Expressions
          5.08 Semantic Roles and Sentence Semantics: Semantic Roles in Headlines

26. Mar 19 (W)      Language Universals: Language Types, Examples of Universals
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 7

27. Mar 21 (F)      Language Universals: Types of Universals, Explanations
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 7

28. Mar 24 (M)      ----------  SECOND EXAM  ----------

29. Mar 26 (W)      Pragmatics: Information Structure, Categories of Information
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 8

30. Mar 28 (F)      Pragmatics: Pragmatic Categories and Syntax
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 8

31. Mar 31 (M)      Speech Acts: Language in Use and the "Cooperative Principle"
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 9

32. Apr 2 (W)       Speech Acts: Organization of Conversation, Cross-Cultural
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 9

33. Apr 4 (F)       HOMEWORK DUE ... Frommer & Finegan:
          5.07 Function Words and Categories of Meaning: Definiteness, Referentiality,
               and Specificity
          6.03 Pragmatic Categories and Syntax: Agentless Passives in English
          6.04 Speech Acts: Categorizing Speech Acts in English
          6.05 Speech Acts: Sentential Implicature
          6.06 The Cooperative Principle: The Gricean Maxims in American English
          6.07 Violating the Cooperative Principle: Indirectness

34. Apr 7 (M)       Registers: Language Variation across Speech Situations
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 10

35. Apr 9 (W)       Registers: Comparing Registers
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 10

36. Apr 11 (F)      Dialects: Regional Varieties of English
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 11

37. Apr 14 (M)      Dialects: Social Varieties of English
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 11

38. Apr 16 (W)      HOMEWORK DUE ... Frommer & Finegan:
          7.01 How Registers Are Marked: Pronunciation of -ing in New York City
          7.05 How Registers Are Marked: The Syntax and Lexicon of Personal Ads
          7.06 Comparing Registers: Natural versus Literary Conversation
          8.01 Regional and Social Dialects: English Dialect Identification

39. Apr 18 (F)      Historical Linguistics: Premises and Methods
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 13

40. Apr 21 (M)      Historical Linguistics: Major Language Families, Languages
                    in Contact
                         Readings: Finegan, chapter 13

41. Apr 23 (W)      HOMEWORK DUE ... Frommer & Finegan:
          10.03 Language Comparison: Classification of Lexical Similarities
          10.06 Phonological Change: Comparative Romance 1
          10.08 Phonological Change: Borrowed Items

42. Apr 25 (F)      Course Summary and Student Evaluations

The THIRD EXAM will be held during the "final exam" period assigned us by the
Registrar.  The third exam will cover topics from the last third of the course
(since the second exam).