Understanding Language


Fall 2014 quarter

Taught by



Basic background in phonetics, phonology, and syntax such as gained in Inside Language or an equivalent introductory linguistics course or program is required.  In phonics, students must be able to transcribe words using the International Phonic Alphabet. In phonology, students must be able to identify phonemes and allophones in a set of phonological data.  In syntax, students must be able to diagram the structure of sentences in terms of noun phrases, verb phrases, determiners, etc.

This one-quarter program is designed to allow advanced students to develop their understanding of how languages are structured and how they change over time. We will consider linguistic structure at various levels, from the sounds and gestures of speech to the structure and meaning of words and sentences. We will also work to understand the complex relationship between an individual's knowledge of language and the broader function of language in human society and history. Throughout the quarter, we will look at a variety of languages from around the world and learn to analyze, describe and compare them. Topics for the quarter will include phonetics and phonology, historical linguistics, comparative linguistics and dialectology, language and gender, and field methods. Our work for the quarter will include discussions of linguistic theory, extensive reading of primary and secondary scientific literature, regular problem sets and an independent research project.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

communications, language studies and linguistics.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.


Date Revision
September 10th, 2014 Prerequisites updated.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall)

Variable Credit Options

Students wishing to study a foreign language should contact the faculty regarding a 12-credit option.

Class standing: Junior–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25


Course Reference Numbers

Jr - Sr (16 credits): 10141
(1-16 credits): 10142

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