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Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Linguistics (LING)

LING 100 (GS) Foundations of Linguistics (3) Systematic study of linguistic structures in a variety of the world's languages; an overview of language, and its organization.

LING 100 Foundations of Linguistics (3)
(GS)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.


Linguistics is, broadly, the scientific study of language. At the heart of linguistics is the search for the unconscious knowledge that humans have about language(s), an understanding of the structure of language, and knowledge about how languages differ from each other. Speakers of all languages know a great deal about their language, usually without knowing that they possess such knowledge. For example, a speaker of American English possesses knowledge about word order: s/he understands that "Sarah admires the teacher" is grammatical, while "Admires Sarah teacher" the is not, and also that "The teacher admires Sarah" means something entirely different. A speaker knows that when someone asks a "yes-no question", s/he typically reverses the order of words at the beginning of the sentence and that the voice goes up at the end of the sentence, as, for example, in "Are you going"?. Speakers also possess knowledge about the sounds of their language, e.g. which consonants can go together in a word. For example, speakers know that "slint" could be an English word, while "sbint" or "srint" could not. In addition, speakers know the rules of language use, such as when to issue a command ("Get me a glass of water") and when to ask a question ("Could I have a glass of water, please"? Furthermore, they recognize dialects which are different from their own, and they can recognize earlier stages of their own language, as in a Shakesperian quotation, or a liturgical formula.
This course equips students with the tools to investigate these aspects of language and language use. As a scientific discipline, linguistics employs strict methodologies to approach issues like the ones above. Students learn to transcribe speech phonetically, then to analyze the raw data into phonological statements about the sound system of languages. Likewise in word structure, students are equipped with the tools to segment words into their significant parts (called morphemes), which reveals interesting facts about how words are stored in memory. Through the study of syntax students learn about the unimaginable complexity of syntactic rules, and are taught the basics of how to unravel the mysteries of sentence structure. And when the whole complex of sounds, words and sentences is put together, rules of meaning are brought to bear, and the sentence is assigned a semantic reading. How this happens is discussed in the section on semantics.

Linguistics 100 introduces these topics and provides enough information for students to understand the basics of the discipline.


General Education: GS
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: Social and Behavioral Science
Effective: Spring 2011

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.

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