LING 1000: Language in US Society
Instructors: Maureen Kosse (section 001), Katherine Arnold-Murray (online section 581)
“To say language is to say society,” wrote anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, underscoring the integral relationship between the two. We use language in nearly every aspect of our social, cultural, and political lives — from mundane everyday conversations with friends and family to the forms of communication we use in school, the workplace, and in government and politics. Language use draws from and shapes our social norms, understandings, and patterns of behavior, constituting who we are as individuals and establishing our social institutions. Sometimes language becomes the focus of our collective attention — such as when debates unfold over what linguistic forms are deemed “proper” or when policies specify or proscribe certain languages that may or may not be spoken. But more often than not, we simply take language for granted — giving little thought to the way language conveys meaning, signals social affiliation and hierarchy, and impacts every level of our lives from our internal thinking to the way we interact with the wider social world. This course will provide you with an opportunity to critically examine the role language plays in society — particularly US society. Since our focus is not just on language, but also on society, we will examine how language and language practices are embedded in social interaction and intersect with a variety of social issues. The approach we will take will be grounded in the broad field of interdisciplinary scholarship known as sociocultural linguistics, which is informed by linguistics, sociology, anthropology, and related disciplines interested in studying language as a sociocultural phenomenon. We will explore questions such as, How is meaning worked out during social interaction? How does language act as a resource for individual and group identities? How does language use correlate with class, gender, race/ethnicity? How do speech patterns vary across regions and social groups in the United States? How do attitudes and ideologies about language impact the way prestige or stigma are socially assigned to different languages, language varieties, and speakers? How does language itself become a political issue, such as in debates over language and education?
This course is for undergraduate students interested in surveying the study of language in society within the field of linguistics. No prerequisites. Open to all majors. This course is approved for: Arts & Sciences Core: Contemporary Societies and United States Context; Arts & Sciences General Education: Distribution-Social Sciences and Diversity-U.S. Perspective; and MAPS: Social Science.
LING 1020: Languages of the World
Instructors: Natalie Grothues
There are more than 7000 languages spoken in the world and each one of them has its own unique characteristics and history. Linguistic diversity allows scholars to understand what is universal and unique to all world’s languages and offers a window into the cultures and minds of their speakers. This introductory course explores the diversity of human language through the lens of a linguist. We will study a subset of over a hundred languages of the world. We will compare the similarities and differences of world languages across four linguistic domains: Phonology (sounds), Morphology (words), Syntax (sentences), and Semantics (meaning). We will learn about language families and how linguists categorize these families. This means that a great part of the course will involve describing the languages’ linguistic features and identifying their language family through in-depth analysis and discussion of data. We will also explore the effects of language contact, language death, preservation, and revitalization.
LING 2000: Introduction to Linguistics
Instructor: Rebecca Lee
Linguistics is the scientific study of language. In this course you will learn about structures of human language(s) and their functions. The central question in linguistics is “how does language work,” in all of its variation and complexity? You will learn what one needs to “know” to speak a language, and how language is used in social contexts. You will learn that all languages vary and change - languages are not static, and linguistic varieties differ from each other in a myriad of ways. However, there are systematic methods that we can use to analyze linguistic data in every language and linguistic variety. All languages rely on the human body and cognitive system’s capacity to make and perceive sounds or signs, the study of phonetics. All languages have a specific inventory of sounds or signs, and the study of how they systematically behave is called phonology. All languages have words, and the study of their internal structure in each language is called morphology. All languages have particular rules and patterns for how words combine, which is the study of syntax. Crucially, the function of all languages is to communicate meaning. The study of meaning conventionally encoded in lexical items is called semantics, and the study of inferential meaning in context is called pragmatics. In addition, language is always used within a dynamic sociocultural context, and thus language use informs identity construction and social meaning, the study of sociocultural linguistics. At the end of the semester you should be able to: use the basic tools of linguistic analysis to understand the fundamental properties of language(s), reason about the issues involved in the social use of language, draw generalizations based on accurate and concise observations about linguistic data, and provide explanations for observed linguistic patterns.
LING 4420: Morphology and Syntax
Instructor: Jared Desjardins
This course provides a general introduction to the linguistic subfields of morphology and syntax. Our focus is thus on the principles of word formation (morphology) and the structures used to construct larger utterances (syntax). Over the semester we will develop skills for analyzing and describing the morphological and syntactic characteristics of grammar and will explore how these phenomena vary in the world’s languages.