Linguistics 501

Fundamentals of Linguistics

    Course Syllabus

    Course Description


    This course will serve as an introduction to linguistics. Emphasis is on providing a form foundation for further study.


    Contemporary Linguistics: An Introduction. O'Grady William, et al.
    A Linguistics Workbook by Ann K. Farmer and Richard A. Demers.

    Course outline

    Week by week readings and assignments


    Readings, discussion, assignments, group presentations, midterm, final.

    Come to class prepared. Read the assigned reading. Be prepared to discuss it.


    assignments 30 %
    class participation 10 %
    midterm 30 %
    final. 30 %

    Class reading

    There will be a weekly reading assignment. Come to class having done the reading. Not only will you benefit more from the lecture, but you will be able to engage meaningfully in class discussion on the reading. In particular, you can ask questions that will enhance your own understanding of the material. It is very difficult to ask useful questions when you haven't read the chapter beinng talked about.


    Yes, attendance is part of class participation, so coming to class will guarantee you a passing grade on the class participation portion of your final grade. But engaging meaningfully in class discussion is another component of class participation, and that means having done the assigned reading and any homework assignments being discussed.


    Complete your homework assignments before class. Not only is homework worth 30% of your grade, but homework problems will resemble problems on your midterm and final.

    The general structure of the course is not well-suited to late assignments. Assignment solutions will be discussed in detail on the day they are turned in, and thus students who turn assignments in late will be at an advantage. However, to allow for some flexibility, late assignments will receive partial credit. Here is the lateness policy:
    • Up to one week late: 50% credit for assignment
    • More than one week late: not accepted
    Group Work

    Group work is encouraged on the assignments.

    When turning in collaborative assignments, your collaborators should be identified on your paper.

    One suggestion about group work:

      It's not a bad thing to change groups in mid-semester. I also encourage existing groups to admit new members. Moving around will help you get to know more people and you will probably learn more. On the other hand, if you find a group that is a good fit, there is no requirement that you leave it.

    Attendance is not a formal part of your grade.

    However, be aware that participation is, and participation is always easier when you are there. Also, hints on how to solve problems on the assignments, the midterms, and the final are handed out liberally in class. These hints will not be posted on the web page.


    Phonetic, phonology, morphology, syntax. Environment. Distribution. Complementary distribution. Phoneme. Morpheme. Rule. Related forms. Constituent. Typology. Sound change. Language family. Dialect. Isogloss. Speech recognition.

    Some terminology you will know by the end of the course: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, morpheme, phoneme, constituent, cognate, language family, proto-language, recursion, aphasia