Linguistics college class?
June 21, 2010 11:46 AM   Subscribe

What should I expect from a college-level linguistics course?

I'm taking a class on linguistics this fall and would like to have an idea of what material we'll cover. The course description is as follows:

"Overview of linguistics, its subfields, and some of its applications."

That seems weirdly broad to me, so I'm turning to the hive mind for more detail or speculation.

Thanks, MeFi!
posted by reductiondesign to Education (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like you're taking an "Linguistics 101" course. There are many resources and online syllabuses available from other professors; they'll be covering similar territory.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:51 AM on June 21, 2010

Best answer: My first linguistics class focused mostly on phonetics/phonology (the study of the sounds of human language) and syntax (roughly, grammar) - probably 3 weeks of a 10-week class on each. We also spent some time on historical linguistics (how the world's languages evolved and relate to one another).

Other topics my early linguistics classes touched on at various points, which might also get at the 'applications' part of your course description: morphology (how words like "unreliable" are put together), psycholinguistics (how people process and understand language), language and cognition (do you see colors differently if you have one word for green/blue?), cognitive neuroscience of language (what parts of your brain are involved in language). We discussed first and second language acquisition a bit as well, and I think we touched briefly on disorders that affect/involve language - aphasia, Williams syndrome, autism.
posted by heyforfour at 12:00 PM on June 21, 2010

Best answer: You'll probably have a few weeks on syntax (basic trees), phonetics/phonology (sounds of language, rules to combine them), morphology (affixes), semantics (logic and quantifiers). There will probably be a discussion of historical linguistics and language change, and one on sociolinguistics. There might be something on language acquisition. You will get a bit more on whatever the professor(s) you have are interested in. Examples will be initially in English (probably also Spanish for you), with further other languages depending on the topic -- phonology and morphology always use other languages, syntax uses a few to show directionality of things, semantics rarely. There's usually interaction, especially about how people interpret sentences with multiple quantifiers ("All students don't like exams" -- every student dislikes them, or not all of them like them?) and how you can interpret pronouns etc.
posted by jeather at 12:03 PM on June 21, 2010

2nd heyforfour and jeather . They pretty much perfectly describe the first Linguistics course I took.
posted by jjb at 12:04 PM on June 21, 2010

You'll also probably be learning the International Phonetic Alphabet, which is both fun and a prerequisite for further studies.
posted by bq at 12:34 PM on June 21, 2010

Best answer: You might want to simply email the instructor and ask if she can send you a recent syllabus. It looks like there used to be several on the web that have been taken down, I was able to dig up an older one from the wayback machine. Who knows how this relates to the version 10 years later, but that textbook is the one your course catalog gives (and is still a standard textbook).
posted by advil at 12:51 PM on June 21, 2010

As a grad student who has been a TA for Linguistics 101, I think it is pretty safe to say that heyforfour and jeather have it right. You may or may not have semantics (there was none when I was the TA). I would expect you to have some sociolinguistics and language acquisition. You will have phonology, morphology, and syntax without a doubt. The area that students struggle with the most is definitely syntax.
posted by kosmonaut at 12:59 PM on June 21, 2010

Here is a syllabus for an intro linguistics course that includes PDFs of all the lectures.
posted by halogen at 1:32 PM on June 21, 2010

Best answer: A lot of women, maybe 70%. They tend to take linguistics, particularly at the intro level much more than men.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 6:22 PM on June 21, 2010

Google the following the line... syllabus linguistics

...and you should find some interesting reading material.
posted by codswallop at 6:25 PM on June 21, 2010

« Older Places to live near Newark, DE   |   Info on watching new season of Mad Men on Amazon... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.