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Linguistics 501

Fundamentals of Linguistics

Language and System

Linguistic subdisciplines

This course will serve as a broad introduction to the field of linguistics, emphasizing those aspects that provide a foundation for further study. The first half of the course will be devoted to introducing the 4 basic tiers of language: morphology, phonetics, phonology, and syntax. We will look at these tiers primarily as different aspects of grammar, what a speaker knows when s/he knows a language.

We will then take a broad look at language typology, looking at some of the amazing ways that the 4 tiers of a language can vary across the languages of the world.

With this basic picture of linguistic systems in mind, we will begin looking at various subfields of linguistics, all of which make use of some of some description of what a language is. We will look at psycholinguistics (language processing and language acquisition), historical linguistics (language genaology and language change), and sociolingustics (language in social context and linguistic communities).


There are two required texts:

  1. The course textbook will be Contemporary Linguistics: An Introduction, by William O'Grady, et al. 6th Edition (or later).
  2. The course workbook will be A Linguistics Workbook by Ann K. Farmer and Richard A. Demers.
Both are available in the campus bookstore. There will be assignments for most of the chapters covered, some from the workbook, some from the textbook.

Prerequisites and Grading

No Prerequisites.

Grading will be based on exercises/projects and take-home midterms and finals. Breakdown in the syllabus.


Jean Mark Gawron

Place and Time

TuTh 200-315 BA 245

Contact Info

Mailing address:
Department of Linguistics and Oriental Languages
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182-7727
Telephone: (619) 594-0252
Office location: BAM, room 321
Office hours: TuTH 13:00-14:00

Unix | Computational Linguistics Lab