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Syllabus
Fall 2014 Syllabus
LING 1150 Professor Janet Randall
[email protected] 617.510.9550
1
425 Lake Hall
office hours MW 12-1:15 & by appointment
Ling 1150 Introduction to Linguistics
7 10:30-11:35 mwr 145 Ryder
10 1:35-2:40 mwr 460 Ryder
 What makes human language unique?
 What does a speaker of a language know (sometimes unconsciously) about that language?
 How can languages vary?
 How do children learn a language?
 Why do speakers from different PLACES or genders or ethnicities sound different?
Part I
The main areas of formal linguistics will give us tools for understanding language
▪
▪
▪
▪
phonetics & phonology (the sounds & sound patterns of language)
morphology (the internal structure of words)
syntax (the structure of sentences)
semantics (meaning)
Part II These new tools allow an informed look at how language works in applied contexts
▪
▪
▪
Indigenous languages
Sociolinguistic variation: region, class, ethnicity, gender
Standards & attitudes: ideas about “correctness”
Along the way
▪
We’ll address some common myths and misconceptions about language
Required Textbooks
 O'Grady, W. et al. (2010) Contemporary Linguistics: an Introduction 6th ed. Bedford St. Martin's
 Pinker, Steven
(1994) The Language Instinct. Harper Collins.
Textbook Website: www.bedfordstmartins.com/linguistics
 Contains tools, features, in-depth explanations.
 Also provides links to resources, video clips, material you will use for your presentation and
extra credit assignments.
 A symbol in the margin of the text refers you here.
Additional readings, for your presentation, at Snell Library Reserve Desk
 Clark, Virginia, et al. 2008 Language: Introductory Readings. 7th ed. Bedford St. Martin’s
Blackboard
 Our course has a Blackboard site which will develop as the course proceeds. Stay tuned!
Fall 2014 Syllabus
LING 1150 Professor Janet Randall
[email protected] 617.510.9550
2
425 Lake Hall
office hours MW 12-1:15 & by appointment
Requirements
▪ Readings Do the assigned reading before the first class of the week. The lectures assume that
you’ve done it. Also, if you have questions about the reading, ASK right away! If you’re confused
by something, chances are, someone else is, too.
▪ TextSleuths Whenever we read both O’Grady and Pinker on the same topic, you have a
“TextSleuth,” assignment, to compare the approaches. Bring your write-up to class on the day
the reading is due, then write it up to be graded as part of your HW. Here’s an example:
TextSleuth: Phonology
(10 pts)
Our secondary textbook, Steven Pinker's The Language Instinct, was written as a popular
introduction to linguistics for laypeople. Using it in a linguistics course can be both good
and bad. It can be good because it gives fun examples to illustrate what can sometimes be
"dry" or "technical" linguistics concepts. But it can be bad because it can oversimplify
concepts in an effort to make them fun, but this can lead to inaccuracies, contradictions, or
confusion for linguistics students. Find two examples, one that shows how using Pinker for
phonology is "good", the other one, "bad". Give the passage in O'Grady and the
corresponding one in Pinker and explain what's good or bad about it. Be prepared to
present your passages in class.
▪ Homework Collected at the start of class, so bring an extra copy for in-class discussion.
▪ Midterm Exam In-class, covering the first half of the course
▪ Final Exam During exam period, cumulative
▪ Attendance/Participation Come to class regularly. The lectures expand on the readings!
▪ Group Presentation

Working in groups of two or three, you will give a 15-20 min. in-class presentation

Topics (readings for each topic are below)
- Brain and Language
- Sign Language
- Language Endangerment
- Animal Communication
- Language and Gender
- Standards and Attitudes

Use the articles in Clark, Language: Introductory Readings (on reserve) and other sources

Prepare a handout or a powerpoint (or both)

Email 2 topic choices to me [email protected] by this Monday.

At least a week before your presentation is due, make an appointment with me to
discuss it.
Fall 2014 Syllabus
LING 1150 Professor Janet Randall
[email protected] 617.510.9550
3
425 Lake Hall
office hours MW 12-1:15 & by appointment
Grade Breakdown






Homework grade:
the average of your 7 highest of these 8 grades
∧∧ problem sets
5 grades
∧∧ Essay
1 grade
∧∧ Fieldwork project
2 grades
Midterm exam
Final exam
Attendance / participation
Group presentation
Extra credit
40%
15%
25%
10%
10%
see below
Extra credit You can earn extra credit (EC) points in two ways. (1) Some Problem Sets offer
optional problems worth EC points. These increase the score on those Problem Sets. (2)
Optional EC assignments, sprinkled throughout, also earn EC points. These are tallied
throughout the term and used to decide between two grades. For example, if you’re
running a B+ your EC points can move you to an A - .
Course Policies
Collaboration
Try to work in small groups on the homework assignments. List everyone you worked with on
the front of your assignment. If you don't list anyone and there is significant overlap between
your assignment and another student’s, this will be treated as a case of plagiarism.
Late Work
One assignment (except the last one) can be up to one week late with no penalty.
No other late work will be accepted, except in exceptional circumstances.
Lowest HW Grade Dropped
Your homework with the lowest grade will be dropped from your homework average.
If it is your fieldwork assignment, which counts as two grades, only one will be dropped.
Communication
a) Blackboard b) in class c) NU email account Check a-c regularly.
Be in touch!
My office hours are on Mondays and Wednesdays but I can also meet with you on other days.
To arrange a time, see me after class or drop me an e-mail. Also, feel free to e-mail me about any
aspect of the class -- or about linguistics -- and I'll try to respond the same day. However, I'm not
generally available on weekends so if you email me on Friday, you may not get a response until
Monday. Please plan accordingly.
Fall 2014 Syllabus
LING 1150 Professor Janet Randall
[email protected] 617.510.9550
4
425 Lake Hall
office hours MW 12-1:15 & by appointment
Academic Integrity
We operate under Northeastern University’s Academic Integrity Policy described at:
www.northeastern.edu/osccr/academichonesty.html. Please become familiar with it. Violations
must be reported to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution and may be subject
to penalties within the course.
Course Schedule: ROUGH OUTLINE
The following schedule is a rough outline of the course. It's hard to know our pace through the
material, so IT WILL PROBABLY CHANGE. Most of these changes will be announced IN CLASS.
That’s another reason to make it to all the classes or, if you can’t, to get the notes from
someone.
Fall 2014 Syllabus
LING 1150 Professor Janet Randall
[email protected] 617.510.9550
5
425 Lake Hall
office hours MW 12-1:15 & by appointment
DRAFT 1
Date
Week 1
Wed
Sep 3
Thu
Sep 4
Week 2
Mon
Sep 8
Wed
Sep 10
Topic
Reading due
Assignments due
Phonetics – Exploring
the textbook website
O’Grady xi-xxiv;
O’Grady 1-13
Website Activities (see handout includes an extra credit opportunity)
Phonetics
O’Grady 15-55
Pinker Chs 1 & 2
Pinker 153-189
O’Grady 59-97
TextSleuth
Email 2 choices for your in-class
presentation, to [email protected]
Introduction
Phonetics/Phonology
Thu
Sep 11
Week 3
Mon
Sep 15
Wed
Sep 17
Phonology
Thu
Sep 18
Morphology
Week 4
Mon
Sep 22
Wed
Sep 24
Thu
Sep 25
Week 5
Mon
Sep 29
Wed
Sept 30
Thu
Oct 1
Week 6
Mon
Oct 7
Wed
Oct 8
Thu
Oct 9
Phonology
PS 1 due: Phonetics
O’Grady 97-106
Presentation 1:
Brain and Language
Pinker Ch 5
O’Grady 115-130
TextSleuth
PS 2 due: Phonology
Phonology
Morphology
O’Grady 130-145
Morphology
Rosh Hashana,
no class
Syntax
Pinker Ch 4
O’Grady 155-172
TextSleuth
PS 3 due: Morphology
Syntax
Presentation 2:
Sign Language
Syntax
Syntax
Syntax
Midterm review
O’Grady 173-198
PS 4 due: Syntax
Fall 2014 Syllabus
LING 1150 Professor Janet Randall
[email protected] 617.510.9550
Week 7
Mon
Oct 13
Wed
Oct 15
Thu
Oct 16
Week 8
Reading due
6
425 Lake Hall
office hours MW 12-1:15 & by appointment
Assignment due
Columbus Day,
no class
Midterm Exam
Go over midterm
Mon
Oct 20
Semantics
Wed
Oct 22
Semantics
Thu
Oct 23
Language Acquisition
film: Out of the
mouths of babes
Week 9
Mon
Language Acquisition
Oct 27
Wed
Language Acquisition
Oct 29
Thu
Language Acquisition
Oct 30
Week 10
Native Languages film:
Mon
We Still Live Here: As
Nov 3
Nutayunean (57 min.)
Wed
Native Languages
Nov 5
Thu
Variation: region, class,
Nov 6
ethnicity, gender
Fri-Sun Extra credit
Nov 7-9 opportunity
Pinker Ch 7
O'Grady 203-239
TextSleuth
PS 5 due: Semantics
Pinker Ch 9
O’Grady 351-386
Presentation 3: Animal Communication
O'Grady 333-350
Essay 1 due. See below.
Presentation 4:
Language Endangerment
O’Grady 485496, 507-508
Attend the annual BU Conference on
Language Development
http://www.bu.edu/bucld/ and write
up a summary of one of the talks. See
Essay 2 below for a list of suggested
talks.
Fall 2014 Syllabus
LING 1150 Professor Janet Randall
[email protected] 617.510.9550
Week 11
Mon
Nov 10
Wed
Nov 12
Thu
Nov 13
Week 12
Mon
Nov 17
Wed
Nov 19
Thu
Nov 20
Thu
Nov 21
Week 13
Mon
Nov 24
10:30
Wed
Nov 26
Thu
Nov 27
Week 14
Mon
Dec 1
Wed
Dec 3
Reading due
O’Grady 497-500,
508-512
Variation: Overview of
social dialects
Variation: Regional
dialects, or, "I pahked
the cah in Hahved Yahd"
Variation: African
O’Grady 512-514
American English
Variation: African
American English
Variation: Language &
Gender
Assignment due
Essay 2 due. See below (extra credit).
Essay 3 due. See below (extra credit).
Variation: Language &
Gender
Presentation 5: Language and Gender
Variation: discuss
Language & Gender
project hypothesis &
methods
Continue discussion of
Fieldwork Project
Fieldwork Project part 1:
Literature Review paragraph,
Hypothesis & Method sections due
Thanksgiving Break
Thanksgiving Break
Field Work: Discussion
of results
Standards & Attitudes
Study Study Study
for Final Exam
Dec ?
7
425 Lake Hall
office hours MW 12-1:15 & by appointment
Final Exam
O'Grady 518-522
Pinker Ch 12
Fieldwork project, part 2:
Results section due
Fieldwork project, part 3:
Full report due today (=Prob.Sets7&8)
Presentation 6: Standards & Attitudes
Fall 2014 Syllabus
LING 1150 Professor Janet Randall
[email protected] 617.510.9550
8
425 Lake Hall
office hours MW 12-1:15 & by appointment
Presentation Topics + Readings
.
These reading on each topic can be found in your textbooks: O'Grady, Pinker, or from Clark et. al.
Language: Introductory readings (on reserve at Snell Library). You may use additional reading as
well.
1. Brain and Language
Pinker chapter 10 – "Language Organs and Grammar Genes"
O’Grady chapter 12 -- “Brain and Language”
2. Sign Language
Clark chapter 3 – Emmorey, Sign Language
Clark chapter 46 – Wolkomir, American Sign Language: 'It's Not Mouth Stuff - It's Brain Stuff'
O’Grady chapter 15 – “Natural Sign Languages”
3. Language Endangerment
Clark chapter 29 – James Crawford, Endangered Native American Language
Clark chapter 34 – Nancy Lord, Native Tongues
4. Animal Communication
Clark chapter 41 –Kemp & Smith, Signals, Signs & Words: From Animal Communication to Language
Clark chapter 6 – Jean Aitchison, Chimps, Children and Creoles: The Need for Caution
Pinker chapter 11 (340-359) – “The Big Bang”
5. Language and Gender
Clark chapter 37 – Fern Johnson, Discourse Patterns of Males and Females
Clark chapter 38 – Deborah Tannen, ‘I’ll Explain It to You’: Lecturing and Listening
Clark chapter 39 – Deborah Tannen, Ethnic Style in Male-Female Conversation
6. Standards and Attitudes
Clark chapter 56 – John Algeo, What Makes Good English Good?
Pinker chapter 12 – “The Language Mavens”
Fall 2014 Syllabus
LING 1150 Professor Janet Randall
[email protected] 617.510.9550
9
425 Lake Hall
office hours MW 12-1:15 & by appointment
ESSAYS (1 required, 2 for EC)
1.
Language Acquisition
A father says, "Correcting my child's mistakes is very important. If a parent doesn't take
the trouble to do this, his kids won't learn the language." Respond to this parent's
statement, by either supporting or disagreeing with it, and bolster your discussion with
evidence from lectures, videos, and readings. Include issues such as: critical period
(critical-age hypothesis), negative evidence, the poverty of the stimulus, structuredependent rules, overgeneralization, etc. Support your point with some concrete
examples of what children do and do not do.
2.
Language Acquisition: Summarize a Conference talk (EC: 10pts, on your Essay grade)
Attend the annual BU Conference on Language Development on Nov 7,8, or 9. Here is
the schedule: http://www.bu.edu/bucld/conference-info/schedule/
Summarize one of the talks. Recommended authors are: Snedeker, Carey, Lidz,
Demuth, Valian, Golinkoff, but other talks are possible. Check with me if you are
planning to go to this; I have to notify the organizers of the number of my students
attending.
3.
Language Variation
(EC: 10 pts, added to your Essay grade)
Imagine the following: The Boston School Board has decided to spend some of its funds
to educate its teachers (in weekend workshops) about Black English. They claim that
the more teachers understand about the dialects the students use, the better they can
teach them the "standard" and the better the students' self-esteem will be since they
will understand that their dialect is not simply bad grammar, but a rule-governed and
logical -- but different -- version of English, on a par with other dialects. Many parents
are outraged, including some black parents. They say things like, "this is not how money
should be spent;" "teach standard English" and "this is patronizing; if we teach bad
grammar to kids, this is only one more way to disadvantage them." Jesse Jackson at
first was against the Boston decision but now supports it. Argue for or against the
Boston decision, using linguistic arguments.
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