Topic outline

  • General Information

    Instructor: Emily Alling

    Meeting time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:30 am - 9:50 am

    Meeting location: Library 102

    "The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists; there is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and the Celtic, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanscrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same family." --Sir William Jones (1786)

    "In the course of interviewing many thousands of subjects, I and my colleagues have found older people who liked the social changes around them. They often admire the new cars, airplanes, computers, television sets, even the new music or new foods available at the supermarket. But no one has ever said, 'I really like the way young people talk today, it's so much better than the way we talked when I was growing up.'" --Bill Labov (2001)

  • Intro Class: 8/30, 2:30 pm, Library 102

    For the first class on 9/4, please read Chapter 12 ("The Language Mavens") of Steven Pinker's The Language Instinct (on reserve in the library or available for purchase at the bookstore).

  • Tuesday, 9/4: Introduction; how linguists think about language

    Reminder: Check the Course Outline to see which readings and assignments are due at each class.

    Additional Readings

    Assignment (due Thu 9/6, 8:30 am)

    For Fun:

    Verbing Weirds Language
    Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

    from Beavis & Butthead Do America

    • Thursday, 9/6: Phonetics and Phonology

      Thurs 9/6

      Due today: Prescriptivism vs. descriptivism: short reaction paper

      Supplementary viewing:

      Video illustrating how to do a palatogram: a rite of passage for linguistics graduate students

    • This topic

      Tuesday, 9/11: Phonology

      Don't confuse letters with phonemes!

    • Thursday, 9/13: Phonology and Variation

      FOR TODAY: Have one or two citations for published grammars that you plan to use for your midterm. You can post these in the forum (see thread "Citations to Grammars).

    • Tuesday, 9/18: Morphology

      • Thursday, 9/20: Morphology; Language Acquisition

        For Tuesday: Midterm Paper Outline
        See sample outline

        Your grammar
        Sunday: Library van trip to UMass Amherst (sign up at Library Bar) 11:30-5:30
        Emily @ Library Service Desk M 12:30-5:30

        • Tuesday, 9/25: Syntax

          • Thursday, 9/27: Wrap up crash course; introduction to historical linguistics

            QUIZ (in class) on terms and concepts from File 2 through File 5 (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax)

            • Tuesday, 10/2: Basics of hist lx; Sound change

            • Thursday, 10/4: Sound change

            • Tuesday, 10/9: Sound change, cont.; Analogy

            • Thursday, 10/11: Analogy

            • Tuesday, 10/16: NO CLASS (Hendricks Days)

              • Thursday, 10/18: Syntactic and Semantic Change

                Postponed! Guest Speaker: Ken Schneck, on the history of the word gay!

                No class -- Emily sick

                For Tuesday (10/23):

                • Read Campbell, Ch. 3 (Borrowing) 
                • Do Campbell, exercise 3.2 (p. 84). Choose only *five* words (not 20, as he suggests) and investigate their origins. Use the library's online Oxford English Dictionary subscription, plus any other sources you'd like. 

                Also, look over and start working on:

                Emily will be at the Library Service Desk Sunday & Monday (10/21-22) from 12:30 pm to 5:30 pm if you want to stop by to pick up graded homework, talk about any questions you might have, etc.

                • Tuesday, 10/23: Borrowing & Etymology

                  Analysis of distribution of /r/

                  Ingvaeonic hijinks

                • Thursday, 10/25: The Comparative Method

                • Tuesday, 10/30: No class (weather)

                  • Thursday, 11/1: Comparative method (cont.); Internal reconstruction

                  • Tuesday, 11/6: IR cont.; Typology; Classification & grouping

                  • Thursday, 11/8: Ken on Semantic Change; Indo-European

                  • Tuesday, 11/13: Wrap up IE; Prep for ancient writing systems activity

                  • Thursday, 11/15: Ancient Writing Systems

                    Field trip/activity!

                    • Tuesday, 11/20: Built-in catch up time

                      • Thursday, 11/22: NO CLASS (Thanksgiving)

                        • Tuesday, 11/27: Final paper check-in

                          • Thursday, 11/29: History of English; Linguistic prehistory

                            • Tuesday, 12/4: Wrap-up

                              • Friday, 12/7: Final paper due